Though saturated fats, as found in butter and animal products, have been linked to serious health conditions, unsaturated fats are a vital part of a healthy diet. In functional foods and beverages, unsaturated fats can be found in the form of oils or whole ingredients, including nuts and seeds, which are high in unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats come in two forms, mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated, and both forms have been shown to reduce cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.
Many nuts and seeds contain high levels of poly unsaturated fats, including EFAs. Almond oil has shown efficacy in inhibiting LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Other plant-based sources of poly unsaturated oil include flaxseed and hemp oils, both high in omega-3s, which are less prevalent in dietary sources. Hemp oil and hemp seeds also include high levels of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), an omega-6 which boosts metabolism and reduces inflammation.
Protein powders based on hemp seed and ‘raw’ food bars containing whole or ground almonds, flax and hemp seed are both excellent sources of healthy dietary fats. In cosmeceuticals, hemp and almond oils are often used to soothe and protect the skin, and their high levels of EFAs offer support for the skin’s moisture barrier.