10 Healthy High Fat Foods

Fats tend to get demonized in an unjust way. However, fats are essential for healthy body functioning. Here’s what you need to know about fats and why fat is crucial for good health.

 

Are Fats Good For You?

The short answer is yes. Fat is an essential macronutrient, meaning the only way your body receives fat is through food. If your diet is low in healthy fats, you will notice the effects. Your hormone levels can be impacted, leading to low energy, libido, mood, and strength. Fat supports basic cellular functions and is a main component of cell membranes, aiding in mineral absorption.

Fat has been demonized in the past because there are 9 calories per gram in fat versus 4 calories per gram in carbs. This simple means keeping an eye on your fat intake and understanding the proper macronutrient balance is key. Remember, calories in vs. calories out is what determines weight gain or loss. So, even if you eat the healthiest fats, if your intake exceeds what you burn, you will gain weight.

 

How Much Fat Should You Be Consuming on a Daily Basis?

While there are general recommendations, the exact percentage varies per person. For the average person, fat should account for 25-35% of daily calorie consumption according to Dietary Guidelines. However, some people may need to adjust for their unique situation. A Registered Dietitian can help you determine how much fat you should have in your diet. 

What Fats Are Healthy?

Fats can be divided into monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest, both having anti-inflammatory effects on the body. All are needed in some capacity.

Polyunsaturated fat has been shown to create a favorable cholesterol ratio and reduce triglycerides. It is also necessary for brain health and growth. Common sources include walnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and most fish.

Monounsaturated fats help reduce blood sugar and support brain health. Foods with monounsaturated fats include avocados, fish, and olive oil.

Saturated fats are good for you in controlled amounts. Common sources include red meat, whole milk, cheese, and coconut oil.

A study from the 1950s claimed that over-consumption of saturated fat leads to heart disease. Many recent studies have found that saturated fat has little to no effect on cardiovascular and heart health. This topic is still debated within the nutrition community. 

There are claims that saturated fat increases LDL, but it’s difficult to single out saturated fat as bad without considering an individual’s entire dietary pattern. Multiple reviews have demonstrated that the recommendation to limit saturated fats to no more than 10% of total calories is not supported by scientific studies.

What does this mean? Saturated fats may have an unfounded poor reputation. If choosing between cooking with butter or seed oil, butter is usually our go-to. More research is needed in this area to determine if over-consumption of saturated fat does in fact, lead to heart disease.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. It’s important to ingest a proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, ideally 2:1. The Western diet typically has a ratio of around 15:1.

Omega-6s are essential fatty acids that you need to consume through diet because your body can’t make them. Despite being demonized due to the large amount found in the Western diet, they are crucial for brain function and growth and may help protect against heart disease. Foods rich in omega-6 include peanuts, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Omega-3s, often synonymous with fish oil, have significant anti-inflammatory effects. Some evidence suggests that omega-3s can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive-related diseases. Sources of omega-3s include fish, walnuts, and eggs. 

Seed Oils

Seed oils are polyunsaturated fats, but many go through excessive processing. These include rice bran, canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils. Currently, research doesn’t completely prove significant health risks from consumption of seed oils as scientific evidence is mixed. But the process to extract seed oil causes the oil to become highly oxidized and rancid, which can cause oxidative damage over time. Some studies suggest limiting intake a seed oils is ideal.

Seed oils are the most ubiquitous and cheapest oils on the market, so they are in practically every packaged food. It’s best to leave them out of your shopping cart and opt for cooking oils like olive oil, avocado oil, butter, and coconut oil. If you eat out, your food is likely also prepared with seed oil due to lower costs, though some restaurants are opting in for other options. Zero Acre Farms is an example of a company working to combat the increase in seed oil consumption that humans have only recently (20th century) been introduced to. They are working to produce a healthier alternative from fermented sugar cane plants that are better for the environment and cleaner than vegetable oils. We dive a bit more into seed oils in Episode 54 of our podcast.

10 Healthy High-Fat Foods

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Whole Eggs
  • Fatty Fish
  • Chia Seeds
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Full-Fat Yogurt
  • Beans

Get Eating Your Healthy Fats!

Fat is an essential macronutrient imperative for healthy body functions, hormone levels, and brain health. The best way to get fat is through a whole foods diet with a balanced macronutrient profiole.

 

Want access to 3 weeks of nutrition guidance? Get access HERE

Want to learn more about healthy fats? Listen to The Stronger Than Your Boyfriend Podcast, Episode 186: Why Fats Won’t Make You Fat

 

Sources Cited: 

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9794145/

Astrup, A., Bertram, H. C., Bonjour, J.-P., de Groot, L. C. P. G. M., de Oliveira Otto, M. C., Feeney, E. L., Garg, M. L., Givens, D. I., Kok, F. J., Krauss, R. M., Lamarche, B., Lecerf, J.-M., Legrand, P., Nestel, P., Soedamah-Muthu, S. S., & Visioli, F. (2020). Saturated fats and health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60(2), 276-287. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1732706

Ludwig, D. S., Willett, W. C., Volek, J. S., & Neuhouser, M. L. (2023). Dietary saturated fats and health: A reassessment and proposal for food-based recommendations. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 79(9), 1014-1032. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9794145/

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