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7 ways to include healthy fats in your diet

Healthy fats are important for our bodies to function, but how can you ensure you’re eating enough without overthinking or overdoing it? We’ve taken the guesswork away: here are seven ways to add healthy fats to your daily diet.

One small thing: Add half an avocado to your smoothie. This creamy fruit is rich in healthy fats and fibre, and lends a lovely texture.

Healthy fats play an important role in a balanced diet. But it might be difficult to figure out if you’re getting enough of the good stuff, especially if you’re busy and inclined to snack on the go.

This is where a bit of planning comes in handy, as well as knowing which food sources to look out for.

Why you should eat fat

Healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) support cell growth, give you energy, help your body absorb certain nutrients and protect your organs. Eliminating fats completely from your diet is counterproductive: you’ll actually be more inclined to crave unhealthy, processed foods, rather than healthy, natural foods.

So, instead of avoiding fat, include a healthy amount in your diet. You’ll find these good fats in foods such as avocados, canola oil, olive oil and oily fish (pilchards and salmon, for example), as well as peanut butter, nuts and seeds.

The fats to avoid are the trans fats, which are mostly found in processed foods, such as pies, pastries, biscuits, fast foods and deep-fried foods. The intake of saturated fats, which are not as bad as trans fats, should be kept to a minimum; these are found in fatty and processed meats, chicken skin, butter, ghee, cream and hard cheeses.

How to eat more healthy fats

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa recommends choosing healthy fats over unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Here’s how to incorporate healthy fats:

  • Blend avocado into your smoothie
    This fruit is rich in healthy fats and fibre, and adds a creamy texture to a smoothie .
  • Go nuts with nuts and seeds
    Research shows that eating nuts and seeds benefits heart health and helps to lower blood pressure. Buy raw almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in bulk and sprinkle them over oats, yoghurt or salad.
  • Don’t forget about fish
    Fish oil and canned fish , such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can be used in casseroles, salads and sandwiches. If you’re concerned that you are not eating enough oily fish, consider taking a supplement.
  • Experiment with plant oils
    Use plant oils, such as olive, sunflower, canola or avocado oils instead of solid fats like butter and lard, in cooking. They’re also great for salad dressings.
  • Spruce up your salads
    Sprinkle olives, toasted sesame seeds, walnuts, diced avocado or pine nuts over your salad. Not only will this keep you feeling fuller for longer and add flavour, you will also be taking in more healthy fats.
  • Stock up on nut butters
    Enjoy peanut, almond or cashew butter on wholegrain toast for breakfast, as a snack or in a smoothie – these contain protein as well as healthy fats.
  • Go easy on the red meat
    Swap meals containing red meat for fish or legume dishes two or three times a week. This way you’ll be replacing saturated fats with healthy ones.

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