Fat was once thought to be incredibly unhealthy and something to be avoided at all costs. There was often the idea that ‘fat makes you fat', which tended to lead to low fat meals and heavily processed foods that are low in fat but high in carbs. These days, we know that fat rich foods aren't necessarily bad for you at all.
In fact, many of the problems that we associate with fat, like obesity and heart disease, aren't linked to fat itself but to an unhealthy diet. The emphasis on low fat foods with processed carbs may have even led to many of the health problems that are so common today.
This means that you can, and should, include fats in your diet regularly. The focus should always be on healthy fats, which includes both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
While saturated fats might not be as bad as they seem either, the evidence about these is less clear cut. This means that you should be a little more cautious about the saturated fats that you include in your diet. And, as always, focus on quality.
The fat rich foods that we're focusing on in this list are all good for you, but you should also think about your diet as a whole. After all, high fat foods are high in calories too. It's easy to consume too many calories without realizing it.
Fat Rich Foods
- Full Fat Yogurt
- Greek Yogurt
- Fatty Fish
- Coconut Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Other Seeds
- Nut Butter
- Seed Butters
- Olive Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Red Meat
Regardless of your view on fat, you probably already knew that avocados are healthy. The fruit has been touted as almost being a health elixir for years now and countless people love having some avocado every day.
One reason is that avocados are high in a type of fat called oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fat and is the same one that features heavily in olive oil. Oleic acid is one of the key reasons that olive oil is seen as healthy, so it's hardly surprising that avocados have the same reputation.
Avocados have other advantages too. For one thing, they're a decent source of potassium. They actually contain more potassium than a banana, which is pretty impressive. They're contain plenty of fiber too, along with various other nutrients.
They’re also low in sugar. This balance of high fat and low sugar is very unusual in a fruit and there are few other similar fruits out there.
Eggs have been through the wringer in terms of reputation. They were once thought to be very unhealthy – full of fat and cholesterol. Yet, more recent research suggests that in most people the cholesterol in eggs doesn't have a strong impact on blood cholesterol anyway.
Besides that, eggs are incredibly nutritious. They don't just offer important vitamins and minerals either. They also contain a surprising number of antioxidants, including ones that promote eye health.
The protein content of eggs is another reason to eat them regularly. This protein, along with the fat, makes eggs very filling. This is one reason why you'll often see eggs recommended as an energy-packed breakfast food.
Full Fat Yogurt
Most of the yogurt that you'll find in local grocery stores is low in fat, due to the modern focus on weight loss. Such yogurts are often high in sugar too and rely on various artificial additions.
If you look closely, you should be able to find some full fat yogurt too. Full fat yogurt is a different story, especially if you find a brand that avoids problematic additions.
With full fat yogurt, you get plenty of beneficial nutrients from the yogurt and probiotics. The higher fat content also makes the yogurt more satisfying. This should mean that you don't get hungry soon after you eat the yogurt.
Greek yogurt is also high in fat, especially if you focus on yogurt that has been made from full fat milk. Much of this fat is in the form of saturated fat.
There can also be a little trans fat present. Trans fat is generally considered very unhealthy, but that concern mostly applies to man-made trans fats. The type of trans fats that you’ll find in Greek yogurt is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been linked to heart benefits and may help to protect against type 2 diabetes as well.
Besides, Greek yogurt is well-known as a healthy ingredient. It is a good source of protein, one that can easily keep you satisfied.
While the fat content of cheese varies depending on the type that you choose, it's safe to say that cheese is rarely ever a low fat food. After all, a decent amount of milk is used to make cheese.
This also means that cheese is a fantastic source of nutrients from dairy, including protein, vitamin B12, selenium, and of course calcium. There's no shortage of protein present too. The combination of fat and protein is a powerful one, as this is what helps to keep you full and satisfied.
Cheese is also fantastic for foodies, as there are so many different types. Flavor, texture, nutrients, and color can all vary dramatically from one type to the next, so you're not likely to get bored any time soon.
Almost everyone agrees that fresh fish is healthy, particularly fatty fish like salmon, herring, and trout.
Fish is notable because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. This is a very important type of fat that many of us don't get enough of. These fatty acids are a key reason that fish has been linked to lower heart disease risk, longer life, and less depression.
Omega-3s may be even more critical these days, as we get a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids from other sources. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids may have important implications for human health. Many of us get too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. Enjoying fish regularly is a good way to improve this balance.
Another aspect is simply that omega-3 fatty acids tend to come from marine sources. There aren't many good options aside from fatty fish and seafood. You can find plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, like alpha linolenic acid, but such fatty acids may not be as powerful.
Butter is one of the more controversial entries in this list. After all, butter is high in saturated fat and is sometimes thought to dramatically increase your cholesterol levels.
Despite this, butter has some advantages too. For one thing, it contains some important compounds for your health, including butyrate and conjugated linoleic acid.
Butter is also less processed than many other cooking oils. It is easy to cook with too and adds a nice flavor to your foods.
And, there's surprisingly little evidence that saturated fats do increase heart disease risk. We're not suggesting that you go overboard with butter, as it's still important to be a little cautious with saturated fat. Even so, butter can easily be one part of a healthy diet.
Coconut oil is subject to the same controversy as butter. In fact, as much as 90% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. Despite this, coconut oil has recently been touted as a health superfood. We also know that some populations with high coconut oil consumption are actually very healthy.
So, what's going on?
One reason is the fat in coconut oil itself. Coconut oil contains a large number of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are processed a little differently than other types of fats and may offer additional benefits to health.
There's even a suggestion that MCTs help to lower appetite and improve metabolism. If those claims are accurate, coconut oil could be a useful weight loss tool (keto dieters certainly think so).
As was the case with butter, exercising caution remains important. Even if saturated fats aren't as bad as we previously thought, we know little about the impacts of dramatically increasing saturated fat intake in a modern diet.
Because of this, it's best to consider coconut oil as part of a healthy diet – rather than as a health food in its own right.
Flaxseed, particularly ground flaxseed makes its way onto most healthy foods lists for a variety of reasons. The most famous one has to be the fiber content.
Flaxseeds contain soluble and insoluble fiber, so the little seeds help to keep you regular. Ground flaxseeds have the advantage that they can be easily sprinkled on top of a meal or stirred in it, to give you fiber, without changing the texture of the food very much at all.
But, the fiber content isn't the only interesting thing about flax seeds. The seeds also contain a decent amount of fat including, notably, alpha linoleic acid. This fat is the precursor to the omega-3 fatty acids that you get from fish. So, if you don't get enough fish in your diet, flaxseed could help make up the difference.
Chia seeds are another choice that is most well known for fiber content. Once again, chia seeds are a good choice for fat too. They contain alpha linoleic acid too, along with various antioxidants and a decent amount of protein.
Chia seeds are also versatile. You can scatter them across a meal like you can with flaxseeds. This works well, as chia seeds are tiny and largely tasteless.
Or, you can soak the seeds in liquid for a little while, which makes them gelatinous. This gelatinous property means that chia seeds can help to thicken meals like overnight oats. Chia seeds and water can even be combined to create a vegan-friendly egg alternative.
Other types of seeds can contain a decent amount of healthy fats too. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all examples. Seeds can be even easier to include in your diet than nuts, as you can eat the seeds as a snack or scatter them on top of a meal.
We can't talk about fat rich foods without highlighting nuts. Nuts are one of the healthiest high fat snacks, as they contain so many nutrients.
Nuts are also very easy to get into your diet. You can simply grab a handful and eat them or scatter them on top of your dinner. You might even use nuts as an ingredient in a dinner. Cashews are particularly good for this, as they are so soft anyway.
While almonds are often considered the best type of nut for nutrients, other types of nuts have their own advantages. Walnuts, for example, contain high levels of alpha linolenic acid, which is the same omega-3 fatty acid that you find in flaxseeds and chia seeds.
In fact, walnuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fats, while most other types of nuts are best as a source of monounsaturated fats instead.
You don’t need to stick to the traditional nuts either. Exotic nuts can be appealing too, including nuts that you might buy online and those that you can forage for. Each type of nut has its own balance of nutrients – and one of the best ideas is to include a wide variety in your diet.
If using whole nuts doesn't work well, you could try focusing on nut butter instead. We're not just talking about peanut butter either. There are many other types of nut butter out there, including almond butter and hazelnut butter.
You might even find a brand that uses multiple nuts, like almonds and peanuts, or one that adds in other ingredients too. Chia seeds are one addition that you'll sometimes see.
Just make sure to choose the nut butter carefully. Some brands produce high-quality products, while others include various additives. Ideally, you want a type of nut butter that doesn't include anything beyond the nuts and possibly some salt.
Seed butters follow the same idea as nut butter, giving you all the nutrients of seeds in a different format. Tahini is a classic example. This traditional paste is made from sesame seeds and is used in many recipes.
Other seed butters include sunflower seed butter, hemp seed butter, and sunflower seed butter. There are some more unusual ones out there too, like watermelon seed butter.
You may also find some brands that combine multiple seeds into the same product – and ones that use a combination of nuts and seeds. It’s worth trying a few different options until you find a nut or seed butter that you love.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, particularly oleic acid. This feature alone makes the oil a common choice for cooking and as a salad dressing.
Olive oil has another advantage too – it hasn't been heavily processed (as long as you avoid refined olive oil). Extra virgin olive oil is your best choice, as this is obtained from the first pressing of the olives. It tends to contain more beneficial compounds than other types of olive oil.
Even regular olive oil is likely to be better for you than processed cooking oils.
Now, olive oil can be a little tricky to cook with, as it has a low smoke point. Even so, you can pan fry using olive oil, just avoid deep frying with the oil.
Olives have a different balance of macronutrients than olive oil, but they're still high in fat. You're getting fiber at the same time, as well as various healthy compounds.
Sodium intake is probably the biggest thing to consider with olives. Olives are often soaked in a salty brine. This gives them a delicious flavor, but the amount of salt could be a problem if you're on a low sodium diet.
Even if you're not, it's important to watch your portion size. After all, we get sodium from many foods already and it's very easy to overdo it.
Dark chocolate is more than just a delicious treat. It is also a powerful choice for health, due to the cocoa polyphenols that it contains.
The fat profile for dark chocolate includes saturated and monounsaturated fat. While the saturated fat content is significant, some of this is stearic acid. This type of saturated fat doesn’t have the cholesterol raising effect that some other saturated fats may.
The benefits of dark chocolate all come from cocoa powder, so it’s best to focus on dark chocolate that has a high cocoa percentage. This means looking for dark chocolate that is at least 75% cocoa. A higher percentage, like 80%, 85%, or even more, is even better for you.
Keep an eye out for additives too. The best dark chocolate will be low in sugar and won’t rely on artificial sweeteners.
Beans don’t normally contain much fat, but soybeans are an exception to that idea. They offer important fatty acids, along with fiber and protein.
The protein content makes soybeans a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans. Tofu, miso soup, soy milk, natto, and tempeh are just some of the foods that rely on soybeans as a key ingredient. Some plant-based meat substitutes do as well.
Red meat is often thought of as an unhealthy high fat food, especially as there is a decent amount of saturated fat present. The saturated fat may mean that you need to pay attention to your red meat intake somewhat, but even so, the meat isn't the health problem that it is often painted as.
For one thing, red meat is absolutely packed with nutrients. Iron is one of the most obvious one to talk about, but there are many others too. There are even some compounds present in animal-based foods that you won't find in other sources.
The protein in red meat makes it a filling addition to your diet too.
The fat content doesn't need to be excessively high either, especially if you stick to lean cuts of meat. In fact, lean cuts can have a very good balance of fat to protein.
Of course, red meat is still controversial. Some groups argue that people should cut down on red meat consumption. Others feel that little change is needed. And, the science is far from conclusive.
A prudent approach may be to still enjoy red meat, but make sure you have plenty of plant-based foods in your diet too. When you do eat red meat, try to avoid the heavily processed types, as these are more likely to cause harm.
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