High-fat foods can be healthy.
If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve probably heard or read admonishments to avoid foods high in fat. But not all high-fat foods are necessarily unhealthy, says Kelli McGrane, a registered dietitian for the weight loss app Lose It! She’s based in Denver.
For example, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of trans fat and saturated fat and replacing them with “better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.” Similarly, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting intake of trans fats and saturated fats.
Many foods that are high in healthy fats are also great sources of antioxidants and other important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins and minerals. “Therefore, it’s so important not to dismiss a food simply because of its fat content,” McGrane says.
Here are 10 healthy high-fat foods:
— Chia seeds.
— Whole eggs.
— Plain Greek yogurt.
When considering healthy high-fat foods, avocados clearly make the list. About 77% of avocados’ calories come from fat, McGrane says. Most of this fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind. Avocados are also a good source of potassium and are high in fiber.
2. Chia seeds
Small and versatile, chia seeds are an easy way to get omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health, says Kylie Giarrusso, oncology dietitian at the Lowell General Hospital Cancer Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. You can use chia seeds in baking or as toppings for oatmeal, cereal or yogurt, or make them into pudding. These seeds also contain fiber, calcium and magnesium.
3. Whole eggs
It seems that eggs often get a bad rap. “The truth is, eggs are a high-quality source of protein and are incredibly nutrient-dense,” Giarrusso says. Research suggests that the cholesterol in whole eggs does not affect the cholesterol blood levels of most people. Just one boiled egg contains 40% of your daily vitamin D requirement and 25% of your daily folate requirement.
4. Extra virgin olive oil
A staple in the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is one of the best sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, McGrane says. “It’s also rich in protective antioxidants that have been associated with reduced levels of chronic inflammation,” she says. Research suggests olive oil intake is linked with benefits for heart health, including reduced blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
5. Plain Greek yogurt
This tart yogurt is packed with protein. Choosing full-fat yogurt will keep you fuller, Giarrusso says. “Greek yogurt not only provides protein, but also calcium, iodine and potassium,” she says. Greek yogurt also contains probioitics — healthy gut bacteria.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential healthy fats that play a critical role in brain development, eye health and heart health. “Fatty fish, including salmon, are the best sources of omega-3s in the diet,” McGrane says. “Salmon is also a great source of protein, is high in B vitamins and potassium and is rich in selenium, a mineral that’s important for bone healthy and thyroid functioning.”
Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats and fiber in the diet, McGrane says. They’re also a good source of vitamin E and magnesium. Research suggests regular intake of nuts is associated with a reduced risk of several chronic conditions, including:
— Heart disease.
This plant-based protein is made from soy beans soaked in water. “It contains all of the amino acids your body needs, similar to animal proteins, but without the saturated fat,” Giarrusso says. Tofu can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to stir-fry and smoothies.
This small and tasty fruit contains heart-heathy fats, particularly unsaturated fats, says Lana Nasrallah, a clinical dietitian with UNC Health, a not-for-profit integrated health care system based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to heart-healthy fats, olives contain about 2 grams of fiber per ¼ cup of different varieties, such as black, green and Kalamata olives. “When you’re looking for a simple snack, instead of a processed food that comes from a bag, reach for a spoonful of olives instead,” Nasrallah says. “Or add olives to salads, pasta and quinoa dishes.”
These seeds have a nutty taste and are one of the richest natural sources of alpha linolenic acid, a healthy omega-3 fatty acid, Nasrallah says. Because our bodies cannot make omega-3s, it’s essential to get them from food. Flaxseeds also contain other healthful nutrients, including protein, fiber and lignans, a plant-based chemical with antioxidant effects. “You can include flaxseed in your diet by adding ground flaxseed into hot or cold breakfast cereals, yogurt, smoothies or baked goods,” Nasrallah says.
To recap, here are 10 healthy high-fat foods:
— Chia seeds.
— Whole eggs.
— Extra-virgin olive oil.
— Plain Greek yogurt.
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