The world of nutritional science is ever-changing as we learn new things, and though that’s beneficial for us in the long run, in the short term it can be a source of confusion and annoyance. It seems as though every other week we’re told that certain
It seems as though every other week we’re told that certain foods, say, high fat foods, are bad for us, and then suddenly they’re good, and then, wait for it—they’re bad again. Look at the alternately good and bad reputations suffered by high fat dairy products or eggs, for example. The truth, however, is that these two foods are only a couple among many healthy
The truth, however, is that these two foods are only a couple among many healthy high fat foods (1) we could or should be consuming regularly.
Our bodies need some fat from food to survive because it’s a key source of energy.
Fat helps you absorb certain vitamins and minerals and is required to build cell membranes. Not only that, but fats are essential for blood clotting and muscle movement. There are good fats and bad fats, and learning the difference between them is important because wiping out all fats from the diet is difficult, impractical, and unhealthy.
The Different Types of Fat
Many people are concerned about fat, but what is often forgotten is that it isn’t necessarily the fat that’s the issue, but the source of the fat. Some fat sources are beneficial and others, such as those found in processed junk foods and store-bought baked goods, are not. You can follow the 80/20 rule that allows you to eat healthy 80% of the time and cheat 20% of the time, but even then, it’s best to cheat as healthily as possible.
All fats, regardless of source, have nine calories per gram. There are four main types:
This type of fat is a liquid at room temperature and can harden when chilled. It’s a heart-healthy fat that can lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s included):
Like monounsaturated fats, these fats start off as liquids but start to congeal when cooled. Olive oil is an example of a polyunsaturated fat.
These are liquid fats that are made solid through hydrogenation. They are found in fried foods, baked goods, and processed snack foods. Trans fats are terrible for the heart and in 2015, the FDA announced that it will ban the use of these fats starting in 2018 (giving manufacturers a chance to get their products to speed).
These are solid at room temperature and are found in meat, butter, coconut oil, and palm oil. This is typically thought to be a bad fat, but the evidence is mixed, so don’t dismiss it out of hand just yet.
Seven High Fat Foods You Should Be Eating
Unlike most other fruits, avocados are mostly made up of fat as opposed to carbs. In fact, an avocado is about 77% fat, which is why so many people, health experts included, banish the fruit from many diets. But this is a mistake because avocados, if eaten in moderation, are an incredible addition to a healthy eating plan.
Much of the fat in an avocado is oleic acid, the same found in olive oil, which is known to have a number of health benefits, including controlling blood glucose levels in diabetics and contributing to heart health. They are high in calories and fat, but if you make wise food choices, eating an avocado a day will not cause obesity. For a simple snack, cut up an avocado and drizzle it with olive oil and a balsamic reduction.
The poor egg has had some bad press over the decades, but the truth is that eating a whole egg, yolk and all, is not the evil it has been professed to be. Eggs are loaded with vital nutrients, vitamins, and fats, and they’re also a cheap and easy way to get protein. Protein is not stored in the body, so we need to eat high protein foods every day to replenish protein levels. A single egg has six grams of protein, and of the five grams of fat in an egg, only 1.5 of that is saturated fat.
Though a lot of attention has been focused on the cholesterol content of eggs, it turns out that eggs are actually good for your heart if eaten in moderation, and they don’t affect cholesterol levels adversely. That means that, yes, you can eat eggs again and benefit from their numerous nutrients, including choline, selenium, folate, and vitamin B12.
Did you know that one pound of cheese requires five quarts of milk? Cheese is a fantastic source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium, and is also a high source of protein, with 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of cheese (in this case, we’re talking about cheddar).
Like other high-fat dairy products, cheese contains fatty acids that have been linked to many health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Many believe that you can gain weight from high fat foods, but the truth is that if you eat a well-balanced diet, don’t eat any fat in excess, and exercise, you won’t gain weight from any of the items on this list, or from any other healthy high fat food.
4. Fatty Fish
Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, and trout are all considered fatty fish and all contain omega-3 fatty acids (2); good fats. You’ll want to eat from these fish sources at least three times a week. The American Heart Association suggests people eat at least two servings a week.
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with amino acids, vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids. A long-term study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating a one-ounce serving of nuts every day could reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease (3). Note: while they may be delicious, avoid candied nuts because of the added sugar.
6. Full-Fat Yogurt
Yes, you read that correctly—full-fat yogurt. First of all, it’s loaded with protein. Secondly, it has probiotics in it, which have been shown to improve gut flora, and gut flora impacts your overall health. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that people who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than those who opt for low-fat dairy (4) . Full-fat dairy typically has fewer additives and is less processed, both of which are better for your health.
7. Olive Oil
Olive oil is the original healthy fat. Lots of research has been done over the past few decades, showing that it helps to lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Oleic acid has been shown to protect your body and slow the aging process.
One tablespoon of olive oil has about 120 calories, so feel free to use it in place of other oils— but don’t go overboard. Once olive oil is heated up, however, it loses many of its health benefits, so don’t use it to fry foods; in fact, avoid frying where possible and choose a healthier option for cooking, such as steaming or sautéing.
This isn’t to say you should adopt a high-fat diet, but rather that you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself anymore and can start eating foods were once thought to be off-limits, starting with the list of high-fat foods above (5). These are some high fat foods that are good for you, but of course, remember to enjoy in moderation.
Some diets adhere to high fat, low carb foods, but this isn’t necessarily for everyone. Discuss it with a nutritionist to see if it’s the right diet for you. Note that if you have gallbladder stones it won’t be a great diet for you, because high-fat foods can create and exacerbate gallbladder attacks.