10 Healthy Fat Foods Every Diet Should Include

If you are someone who avoids eating fatty foods at all cost because you think they will make your waistline expand, then it’s time to get the skinny on fats. Let me start by saying that fats are not all created equal. Trans fats are the bad guys. If you say hello to trans fats too often then you can definitely say goodbye to your skinny jeans and the quality of your health. But there are a whole other class of fats out there that our bodies actually need for energy, cell growth, nutrient absorption, hormone balance, and more.

healthy fat foods

Healthy fats include polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. Before we go over the 10 healthy fat foods that every balanced diet should include, let’s take a quick lesson on healthy fats. 

Unsaturated fats – This type of fat is typically liquid at room temperature and can be found in foods like olive oil, seeds, nuts, and seafood. I’ll talk more about those foods in just a minute. 

Saturated fats – This type of fat is typically solid at room temperature. While saturated fats are often viewed as “bad” fats, certain sources are considered great for our health. Take coconut oil for example! 


 

1) Avocados 

Often referred to as a “superfood,” avocados are among the most nutrient-dense fruits on earth. They contain a long list of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, they’re loaded with protein, fiber, and fat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), avocados contain around 29 grams of fat. Don’t let that high number scare you, though. Studies have found avocados are amazing for health. They are known to:

  • Aid weight loss
  • Improve heart health
  • Lower bad cholesterol levels
  • Fight cancer
  • Improve digestion
  • Support brain function
  • Protect against insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Balance hormones
  • Support healthy skin 
  • Support eye health

After reading the health benefits, it’s no wonder avocados achieved “superfood” status. 

healthy fat foods

When it comes to incorporating avocados into your daily diet, they’re extremely versatile. Aside from traditional guacamole, you can mash them up and replace butter on toast. You can also add them to soups, salads, and smoothies. If you like to bake, you can even use them as a fat replacement in baked goods. 

2) Eggs

Over the years, eggs have gotten a pretty bad reputation. Some people avoid eggs altogether because they believe the high fat and cholesterol content make them unhealthy. Then there are the people who only eat egg whites because they believe the yolk is the only unhealthy part. According to researchers, the truth is, eating whole eggs is extremely good for you. It’s important to remember that not all fats and cholesterol are created equal. Eggs are actually a great source of protein, healthy fats, and good cholesterol. Plus, eating just one egg provides your body with 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Oh, and did I mention that one large egg is only 70 calories? 

If you want to reap the amazing health benefits of eggs, you will want to eat the entire egg. Yes, that includes the controversial yolk. According to experts at the Egg Nutrition Center, key nutrients such as choline, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron are found exclusively in the yolk. Consuming the nutrients from whole egg can help with:

  • Weight management
  • Improve muscle strength
  • Support healthy brain function
  • Support eye health
  • Support healthy pregnancy

So which type of eggs are the healthiest? According to the Egg Nutrition Center, the answer may surprise you. They say:

“The nutrient content of eggs is similar regardless of color (white or brown), grade (AA, A, or B), or how they are raised (organic, free-range, and conventional).”

eggs

3) Salmon (& Other Fatty Fish)

Wild caught salmon is another powerhouse food. According to the USDA, a 3 ounce Atlantic salmon fillet contains 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat. While the fat content may sound high, remember it’s good fat. Salmon is rich in beneficial Omega-3s, which have been known to: 

  • Support heart health
  • Lower bad cholesterol
  • Fight diabetes
  • Aid digestion
  • Improve mood
  • Support healthy brain function
  • Reduce risk of cancer 

Those are just some of the top benefits on our list of 13 reasons to include Omega-3 fats in your diet. 

Along with salmon, there are other fatty fish in the sea that pack a nutritional punch. They include mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends people eat at least two servings of fish a week to reap the Omega-3 benefits. 

salmon

4) Coconut Oil

Today, it seems everyone is going coco-nuts … and rightfully so. It feels like coconut oil can cure just about everything. It has anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties to ward off harmful toxins and illnesses. As of today, there are more than 1,500 studies that prove coconut oil offers amazing health benefits such as:

  • Aids weight loss
  • Fights inflammation
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Fights cancer
  • Fights UTIs
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces stomach ulcers
  • Supports brain health
  • Boosts energy
  • Heals burns
  • Prevents gum disease

Believe it or not, those are just a few benefits. The list goes on! Before we learned about coconut oil’s health and beauty benefits, though, a lot of people actually feared consuming coconut oil because it’s full of saturated fat. Just one tablespoon has a whopping 14 grams of fat. Here’s what researchers now know — coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Unlike long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) found in plant-based oils, MCFAs are easy to digest, immediately convert into energy, and not readily stored as fat.

coconut oil

Consuming just one tablespoon of coconut oil at meals could have major effects on the body. To add more coconut oil into your diet, try cooking with it. Since coconut oil has a high smoke point, it’s great in the frying pan. You can also use it to replace butter on toast, use it as coffee creamer, add it to your morning oatmeal, put a spoonful in yogurt, or mix some into smoothies. 

Note: When you’re buying coconut oil, make sure to pick up a bottle that says the following: Organic, virgin, unrefined.

5) Olive Oil

Just because we love coconut oil so much doesn’t mean we should forget about olive oil. The oil we’ve nicknamed “liquid gold” is derived from olives. Manufacturers simply squeeze olives until oil is released. Then, voila, you have olive oil!

As a staple in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is chock full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that have proven to reduce the risk of a number of diseases and conditions. Some of the health benefits of olive oil include:

  • Benefits heart health
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Reduces risk of stroke
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Fights certain types of cancers
  • Speeds up weight loss
  • Protects bones

When purchasing olive oil there are two main things you want to look for. For one – make sure it’s extra virgin. This refers to the grade of oil. Many cheap oils are loaded with chemicals and/or are diluted. Second — make sure to get “cold pressed.” This refers to the extraction process. When heat is used to extract oil from olives some of the nutrients are destroyed. 

olive oil

6) Olives

Since olive oil made the list you may not be that surprised to see olives on here too. But if you aren’t someone who eats plain olives (either black or green), then you may not have realized they are considered a high-fat food. Just four green olives have 2.5 grams of fat. Like I’ve stressed with some of the other foods on this list, though, it’s the type of fat that matters. Approximately three-fourths of the fat in olives is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has major heart-health benefits. Oleic acid has been known to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Olives also contain Omega-3s. Along with healthy fat, olives are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamin E. 

7) Peanut Butter (& Other Nut Butters)

It turns out those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that your mom packed for you as a child were both delicious and nutritious. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter have around 16 grams of fat, none of which are trans fats. On the flip side, most of the fat found in peanut butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Along with supporting heart health, researchers say the healthy fats in peanut butter help keep people feeling full for longer, meaning many munchers cut down on mindless snacking. That’s a huge benefit for weight loss!

Along with healthy fats, peanut butter is also high in protein, potassium, fiber, and other key vitamins the body needs. Due to its high nutritional value, eating peanut butter has been linked to:

  • Weight loss
  • Heart health
  • Building and repairing muscle tissue
  • Lowering bad cholesterol
  • Fighting Type 2 Diabetes

Some other healthy nut butters include almond butter, cashew butter, and hazelnut butter. When choosing which brand of nut butter to buy, make sure to read the ingredient label carefully. Look for an organic nut butter that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup or other dangerous food additives

peanut butter

8) Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, and more! There are a large variety of nuts all filled with healthy amino acids and unsaturated fats. Along with healthy fats, nuts are also a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Several studies have linked nuts to:

  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced risk of stroke 
  • Weight management
  • Brain health
  • Boosted immunity

After reading a quick overview of their health benefits, it’s clear that nuts are a wonderful grab-and-go snack. Just throw some in a Ziploc bag and head out the door. 

Note: When buying nuts, don’t opt for the honey glazed or chocolate coated options (unless you’re making them yourself and can control every ingredient). Rather, it’s best to stick with regular nuts that haven’t been dipped in any refined oils or sugars. 

nuts

9) Seeds

Seeds may be tiny, but they’re also mighty. You may not realize it, but chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are rich in monounsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. To give you a quick overview of what I mean when I use the word “rich”:

1 ounce of chia seeds has about 9 grams of fat.
1 ounce of whole flax seeds has about 8 grams of fat. 
1 ounce of pumpkin seeds has about 5 grams of fat. 

Those numbers are according to the USDA. 

Along with healthy fats, seeds also contain protein, fiber, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. As far as health benefits are concerned, seeds have been known to:

  • Support heart health
  • Support brain function
  • Fight inflammation
  • Protect against osteoporosis 
  • Boost the immune system
  • Benefit weight loss
  • Boost mood

seeds

10) Dark Chocolate

To all the chocolate lovers out there, this is not a joke. Chocolate is actually something you’re encouraged to include in your daily diet. So in case you needed a good reason for indulging in a little sweet during the day, you’re welcome! 

Okay … I need to confess something. There is a catch. When I say chocolate, I really mean dark chocolate. More specifically, organic dark chocolate made from at least 70% raw cacao or cocoa. This type of chocolate is far from the sweet milk chocolate Hershey’s bar many people love. Rather, when biting into dark chocolate for the first time, you may be surprised by the bitter taste. If you’re someone who likes the flavor of dark chocolate, though, then you’re in luck. Researchers say eating a moderate amount (about two ounces a day), can:

  • Improve blood flow
  • Fight inflammation
  • Fight stress
  • Fight fatigue
  • Help prevent diabetes
  • Improve gastrointestinal flora

dark chocolate

How Much Healthy Fat Is Actually Healthy?

You’ve heard the saying before, “Everything in moderation.” That saying definitely applies to dietary fats. Just because the 10 foods I mentioned above are filled with “healthy” fats, doesn’t mean you should sit around and eat them all day. Rather, the American Heart Association suggests healthy adults limit their dietary fat intake to between 20-35 percent of total daily calories. Based on a diet of 2,000-calories a day, that would mean healthy adults should eat between 44-78 grams of fat a day. 

Of those 44-78 grams of fat a day, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend keeping saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your daily calories. Again, based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day, that would mean healthy adults should limit saturated fats to about 22 grams of saturated fat a day.

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