Healthy fats, and by extension healthy high fat foods, are often difficult to identify. Macronutrients can occasionally be misleading or hard to understand, but it’s important to ensure your diet is balanced and contains the right amounts of fats.
But how can you do that? What foods are healthy fats, and what foods should be avoided?
Well, this is where OriGym’s extensive guide to the best healthy high fat foods comes in. We’ve picked out our personal favourite high fat foods that are not only rich in essential fatty acids (like Omega3), but that also come with a host of other benefits, including boosting your vitamin intake, bolstering your immune system, and providing you with essential nutrients.
Sound good? Read on to learn more about our favourite healthy high fat foods!
- What Are The Different Types of Fats?
- What Are Bad Fats?
- What Are Good Fats?
- The Best Healthy High Fat Foods
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What Are The Different Types of Fats?
Our bodies need fats to survive - they’re an essential part of any diet, and most of the time, we consume them without ever realising.
Fats are necessary for absorbing key vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E), as these are fat-soluble, meaning the body can only utilise these when they’ve been broken down by fats.
Our exploration of the best vitamins for energy goes into greater depth about the necessity of vitamins in our daily diets.
We should also make sure we are consuming fats known as ‘good’ fats. But, this distinction can be difficult to make - if we aren’t sure of the difference between “good” and “bad” fats, we can make mistakes and eat unhealthy foods we think are good for us, or upset a balanced diet.
Let’s break it down, and understand what we mean by saturated (“bad”) and unsaturated (“good”) fats.
What Are Bad Fats?
Saturated or “bad” fats are the fats we often associate with unhealthy foods. Butter, ice cream, fatty cuts of meat - all of these are high in saturated fat, and are what we’d generally associate with an unhealthy diet.
While a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can incorporate all of these foods in moderation, it’s important to know that these foods will typically contain high levels of saturated fat.
Saturated fats cause the body to produce more LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, which drastically increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as creating problems with circulation and cardiovascular health.
The NHS recommends a daily intake of no more than 30g of saturated fats for men, or 20g for women.
What Are Good Fats?
Good (or healthy) fats are what we should aim to incorporate into our diets. Monounsaturated (found in certain cooking oils and some nuts) and polyunsaturated (these are Omega-3 and Omega-6, often associated with fish) are the two main types of healthy fats.
Both of these fats have the opposite effect of unsaturated fats, in that they reduce the amounts of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, and increase the levels of healthy cholesterol (which disposes of bad cholesterol in the liver).
These healthy fats are what we need to look for and add into our diets, as they’ll not only help reduce our risk of stroke and heart disease, but also adopt healthier lifestyle choices, and make positive changes that can improve our lifestyles. Read up on our tips to succeeding with fad diets that can revolutionise your lifestyle.
Healthier fats are also better at performing their function - absorbing key vitamins and nutrients into the body so that they can be used properly and efficiently.
But what foods are healthy fats? Let’s explore a selection of our favourite healthy high fat foods!
The Best Healthy High Fat Foods
#1 - Avocados
These foods with healthy fats have grown and grown in popularity over the past decade, and are now recognised as a superfood (a food that contains a high amount of helpful vitamins, minerals or macronutrients).
Let’s contextualise that - 100g of avocado contains 15g of good fat. These healthy fat foods contain the monounsaturated fats our bodies need to maintain heart health and a good (HDL) cholesterol level.
A specific monounsaturated fat found in avocados is known as oleic acid (also found in olive oil, which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this article). Studies (including this research by Pharmacological Research) have shown that oleic acid has numerous health benefits including reducing our risk of developing heart disease, and lowering our overall levels of bad cholesterol.
Aside from being one of the best high fat foods, avocados can also boost our vitamin and mineral intakes due to their high levels of Vitamin K (which helps with our recovery from injuries and ensures our blood can clot properly) and Vitamin C (which maintains our cell health and many different aspects of our bodies, including the skin, bones, and cartilage).
Furthermore, eating foods high in healthy fats (such as avocado) can leave us feeling fuller for longer (also known as feeling satiated), which is an important aspect for anyone looking to lose weight or shed any type of body fat.
#2 - Dark Chocolate
Similarly to avocados, the next entry on our list of foods with healthy fats also contains the compound oleic acid found in monounsaturated fats, meaning it warrants a place on our healthy high fat foods list.
But before you run for the chocolate cupboard, it’s important to know that chocolate is healthiest if it contains over 70% cacao, so avoid the milk and white chocolates as they will be high in sugar and milk, and therefore the unhealthy fats that contribute to our levels of bad cholesterol.
The fats in chocolate come from the cacao butter, which is why it’s better to opt for chocolate with a higher cacao content.
However, it does also contain some bad fats known as saturated fats. These fats come in the form of stearic and palmitic acid, and in the past they have been linked to increasing our bad LDL cholesterol.
But new research has suggested that stearic acid may actually have a positive effect on our cholesterol, meaning foods like dark chocolate can be incorporated into a healthy diet without fear of unnecessarily increasing your levels of LDL cholesterol.
Although no new research has been done on palmitic acid, it only makes up a small proportion of dark chocolate, and in small amounts it should not cause any harm.
Whilst dark chocolate contains some healthy fats, it also contains numerous antioxidants which can protect our body against free radicals and oxidative stress. Read more in OriGym’s extensive list of the best antioxidant foods.
#3 - Eggs
Many people believe that whole eggs are unhealthy due to the cholesterol found in the yolk, and for this reason people trying to lose weight will traditionally just eat the white of the egg.
A 2-egg serving contains 11g of fat, 3g of which is saturated (of which we should aim to consume less than 20g per day) and the rest unsaturated. All of this fat is found within the yolk of the egg, which means that, if you’re only consuming the egg whites, you’ll be missing out on a huge part of one of the best foods with healthy fats.
Not only does the yolk contain all the fat, it also contains nearly all the vitamins found in the egg. These include vital vitamins such as Vitamins A - which helps augment our body’s natural defences and immune system and E - which helps maintain the healthiness of our skin and eyes - as well as multiple antioxidants.
This healthy high fat foods’ main benefit is its Omega-3 fatty acid content (which we often only associate with fish), which helps maintain a healthy immune system. This healthy high fat food is also simple to include in your daily diet due to its versatility, plus there’s a vast array of health benefits of eating eggs!
Whilst there is no limit on how many eggs we are recommended to eat, it's important to maintain a balanced diet. Frying eggs are one of the unhealthiest ways to consume these fats - we’d suggest opting for poaching or boiling to maintain the health benefits these healthy high fat foods give us.
#4 - Cheese
Next on our list of healthy high fat foods is one that might surprise you.
Cheese is often considered to be a treat, but it can also have benefits you may never have considered.
This healthy high-fat foods’ a superb source of fat, especially blue cheese, brie and cheddar cheese. These three high fat healthy foods contain a compound known as CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid.
CLA is a fatty acid mainly found in meat and dairy products. Research from the scientific journal Lipids has shown that CLA may provide us with protection against obesity and obesity related diseases.
Choose your cheese carefully, though - some of these healthy high fat foods contain higher saturated fat levels than others. Brie and cheddar tend to have higher fat contents, but if you want lower calorie cheeses then feta or swiss could be ideal.
The health benefits we gain from these healthy high fat foods mainly depend on how we eat them. For example, if we eat cheeses in the crust of a pizza, they are obviously not as healthy as eating a small portion as part of a salad. Or make cheese a main component of your cooking with OriGym’s guide to the best keto cookbooks.
If you opt for a cheese with stronger flavour, you may find yourself using less in recipes rather than healthy high fat foods with less flavour. Furthermore, if you grate your cheese before adding it to dishes you also may find yourself using less, and that it adds extra flavour to your food.
#5 - Chia Seeds
Just one serving of these high healthy fat foods can contain up to 9g of healthy fats. The majority of these fats are monounsaturated, although they do contain small amounts of saturates.
These tiny seeds boast an impressive amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, and they are actually one of the best-known plant sources of these essential acids. In fact, a 2020 study found that these foods with healthy fats form part of an effective diet to combat cardiovascular issues, and potentially prevent serious problems like heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids have multiple health benefits to the body. While they are predominantly found in oily fish, plant-based sources such as chia seeds are becoming increasing popular, and for good reasons. For vegetarians and vegans, these healthy high-fat foods are a great alternative to the more stereotypical sources of Omega-3.
But why do we need Omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids can cause a huge reduction in the triglyceride levels in our blood. Triglycerides are a fat that, when found in abundance in our body, can increase our risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in this healthy high fat food, help reduce our risk.
Not to mention that chia seeds can be an easy addition to your diet. These healthy fats foods are cheap and readily available in most supermarkets, plus they can be eaten alone as a simple high protein vegan snack, or added into smoothies and shakes.
#6 - Olive Oil
This healthy high fat food’s a staple that almost everyone will have in their cupboards, and for good reason.
It's full of healthy fats that our body needs, and if you don’t currently use it, we’d definitely recommend swapping your normal cooking oil for this.
Around 73% of the fat found in high fat healthy food’s made up of monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid. This fatty acid is known for its beneficial effect it has on our health such as reducing our risk of inflammatory related diseases.
It may also relieve our blood vessels, relaxing them and making our blood flow smoother, in turn reducing our blood pressure. Furthermore, monounsaturated fats have been found to reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease.
Olive oil is known for its uses in Mediterranean diets, and research has shown that those following a Mediterranean diet have better health and are at less risk of developing heart disease.
Using olive oil for cooking is a great way to incorporate healthy fats into your diet, as monounsaturated fats are highly heat resistant, and therefore will remain in your dish after you’ve finished cooking it.
Aside from the healthy fats found in this food, it also contains numerous antioxidants such as Vitamins E (maintaining good skin and eyesight) and K (helps your recovery from injury).
If you are going to add olive oil into your diet, make sure that you pick the right one. Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the healthier option as it retains more antioxidants due to less processing, but our advice would be to double check the macronutrients of any oil you’re adding to your diet.
#7 - Coconut Oil
Another of the healthy high-fat foods you can consider adding to your diet is coconut oil. Coconuts have a distinct flavour profile, and this can boost the diverse palate of certain dishes such as curries or soups.
Coconut oil is actually high in saturated fats. Although it is generally a good rule to steer clear of saturated fats, there are certain healthy high fat foods where they can be beneficial.
And this is the case with coconut oil, as in this particular high fat healthy food, they may actually do more good than harm.
In coconut oil, these saturates are made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Normally, triglycerides are long chain substances that your body uses for energy and when it cannot be used, they are stored as fat.
Medium chain triglycerides go straight to your liver once consumed and, if they cannot be used, your body turns them into compounds known as ketones.
Ketones are a crucial component in a healthy brain function, and have been studied extensively for their benefits they may have on Alzheimer's or other brain conditions.
The MCT in these healthy high fat foods have also been found to help boost weight loss and fat burning. Furthermore, a fatty acid found in coconuts known as lauric acid is known to have antimicrobial effects, which means that it may help kill viruses and harmful bacteria in our bodies.
To ensure you gain the most from your coconut oil, make sure you choose virgin coconut oil compared to more processed versions.
Aside from adding coconut oil to dishes, coconuts themselves contain all the benefits we’ve listed above, so if you're a fan, definitely add fresh coconut to your diet too!
Or, if you’ve developed a taste for the tropical, OriGym’s report on coconut water and its benefits has the scoop!
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#8 - Yoghurt
Most people will opt for these foods with healthy fats when doing their weekly shop, but, somewhat surprisingly, adding full fat yoghurts to your diet may actually be beneficial for you.
On average, 100g of full fat yoghurt will contain 3.3g of fat. While the majority of the fats found in these healthy fats foods are saturated fats, they do contain multiple fatty acids which provide us with many benefits.
One of these fatty acids is known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which, as we’ve just learned, is a key component of many dairy products (including yoghurt). While overconsumption of CLA can have detrimental effects on your metabolism, small doses of CLA have been proven to be beneficial.
A study from Obesity Research and Clinical Practice found that the consumption of CLA in moderation can prevent metabolic issues and lifestyle diseases, such as Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
As we discovered in our section on how cheese is one of our best healthy high fat foods, CLA can also help to keep obesity and its related illnesses and problems at bay, too.
Yoghurt also comes in a vast array of flavours, meaning it’s easily one of the best high fat healthy foods for toddlers or fussy eaters! Or, if you’re looking to boost your protein intake, check out OriGym’s report on the best high protein yoghurts.
#9 - Flax Seeds
Next on our list of healthy high-fat foods are flax seeds. These high fat healthy foods are jam packed with the good fats our body needs, as well as multiple other essential vitamins and minerals.
They are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, and are in fact one of the best sources of these vital acids for vegetarians or vegans. The essential fatty acid they contain is known as Alpha Linoleic Acid, or ALA.
This fatty acid helps our body regulate our cholesterol levels, and in turn may prevent cardiovascular illnesses such as heart disease or stroke. The highest concentration of ALA can be found in flaxseed oil, but eating raw flax seeds can still support your health.
Furthermore, due to their high Omega-3 fatty acids they have a lower amount of Omega-6 fatty acids. With the ratio of these two together being so low, it means that flax seeds are one of the best sources of Omega-3, and we reap the best benefits.
One tablespoon of these super healthy high fat foods contains 4g of fats, with the majority coming from polyunsaturated fats such as fatty acids. Flax seeds also have many other health benefits other than their healthy fat status.
They contain important antioxidants for the body, and in particular lignans. Lignans found in flax seeds in particular have been shown to reduce our blood pressure when regularly consumed, and also may aid in the prevention of heart disease due to their inflammation lowering properties.
Flax seeds contain many more important nutrients for the body such as copper (used to make and maintain red blood cells), magnesium (helps keep the nervous system healthy) and thiamine (which makes our list of the best vitamins for the immune system) so they would be a great addition to anyone's diet.
#10 - Olives
These high fat healthy foods are full of various health benefits, one being the high amount of healthy fats they contain. It’s these healthy fats which are extracted to make olive oil (which we looked at earlier in this article).
100g of olives contain around 10g of fat, most of which is monounsaturated (good) fats. The main monounsaturated fat in olives is oleic acid, which we’ll explore in more detail.
Oleic acid has many surprising health benefits, such as acting as an anti-inflammatory in the body, reducing the levels of potentially harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream, and lessening the risk of heart disease.
Other nutrients found in these high healthy fat foods are Vitamin E and Iron. Vitamin E is actually an antioxidant which helps our body fight off disease, as well as being one of the best vitamins for tiredness and fatigue, and iron strengthens our red blood cells, meaning they’re better equipped to transport oxygen around the body.
Not to mention these healthy high fat foods are low in calories, but they’re also high in nutritional content. Their wide availability and prominence in the ever-popular Mediterranean diet means they’re an ideal snacking food if you’re feeling peckish.
#11 - Tofu
While this next entry on our list of the best foods high in healthy fat is mostly known as a meat replacement for vegetarians and vegans, there are multiple health benefits we can gain from adding tofu into our diet.
This high fat healthy food’s prepared from soya milk, and can be cooked in many different ways and added to many different dishes. It’s a nutrient rich food product boasting little calories, especially when compared to the high nutrient value it possesses.
Tofu is high in protein, calcium and iron. It’s also low in calories and gluten free, but perhaps the most important factor is the amount of fat it contains.
Unlike most animal proteins, this healthy fats food’s low in saturated fats - 100g of tofu contains around 4g of total fat, meaning it’s an ideal choice if choosing between plant protein vs animal protein.
The majority of the fat found in tofu comes from unsaturated fats (such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), meaning it's rich in ‘heart-healthy’ fats.
In fact, a systematic study in the journal Atherosclerosis found that products derived from soya proteins can help reduce our levels of bad cholesterol in our blood, drastically reducing our risk of heart disease and other heart complications.
When cooking with tofu, and especially if you’re using it as a meat substitute, be sure to add seasonings as tofu on its own can be bland. Coupling tofu with some of the best herbs for weight loss means it can take on an entirely new flavour profile that's often just as tasty as its carnivorous counterpart!
#12 - Peanut Butter
Now, peanut butter may not be top of your list when you think of healthy high fat foods but hear us out...
When enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, peanut butter can be considered healthy. It’s high in protein, and contains various minerals such as magnesium (which our body uses to turn food into energy) and phosphorus (great for strengthening teeth and bones).
Just two tablespoons of peanut butter contain a whopping 18g of fat, meaning it’s one of the best healthy high fat foods to gain weight.
But it's certainly not all unhealthy. Peanut butter contains both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats which, as we’ve already discovered, contribute positively towards heart health.
In fact, just as a point of comparison, peanut butter and olive oil both have similar levels of polyunsaturated fats. This level of healthy fats means they’re a mainstay on OriGym’s chosen top nutrition blogs.
Whilst the healthiest option would be to consume peanuts on their own, many peanut butters contain oils which contain extra nutrients.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in peanut butter. These fats can help lower our bad cholesterol in our blood and help promote our blood vessel functioning. Peanut butter also contains oleic acid which helps promote a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, plus it can reduce our risk of developing heart disease.
When shopping for peanut butter, look for jars with fewer ingredients; this means that they won’t contain as many preservatives, like salt or sugar. Plus, because of its tastiness and versatility, peanut butter is an ideal choice when it comes to high fat healthy foods for kids!
#13 - Soya Beans
When it comes to high fat foods that are healthy, we’ve already included tofu on our list, so we felt it right to also include soya beans. Both of these protein alternatives are healthy foods high in fat and protein.
Similar to tofu, soya beans are a great protein source and can be used as a meat alternative. They’re naturally low in saturated fats and high in many nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats.
100g of soya beans contain 9g of total fats, 5g of which comes in the form of polyunsaturated (or good) fats.
Furthermore, these foods containing healthy fats are high in both Omega-3 and Omega-6, as well as monounsaturated fats. The fatty compound linoleic acid is found in soya beans, and accounts for almost 50% of the total fat content of them.
Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that our bodies can't produce and we have to receive through our diet. Research has shown that dietary sources of this acid can help reduce our risk of developing heart disease and reduce blood pressure.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to incorporate a source of linoleic acid (such as soya beans) into your diet. This can easily be done through replacing one meaty meal with tofu, or by using a soya-based oil when cooking.
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#14 - Kidney Beans
When we say beans, it’s easy to immediately think of a can of baked beans. But those aren’t nearly as beneficial as their healthier cousins, and in particular kidney beans.
Kidney beans are cheap, but they’re high in protein and many vitamins. These high healthy fat foods are also packed with helpful fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the greatest concentrations in oily fish such as salmon, but for vegetarians and vegans it can be hard to reach the required amount of fatty acids needed in our diets.
Beans in general are good sources of Omega-3s, but kidney beans have one of the highest levels of healthy fats in foods suitable for vegetarians.
While the overall fat content of kidney beans is low, this doesn’t mean they’re not beneficial. A significant majority of the fats found in kidney beans come in the form of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, which can protect our heart health.
Kidney beans, like most other beans, contain high amounts of fibre which aids digestion, keeps us feeling fuller for longer (also known as satiation) and can aid weight loss. This high fibre content also means these healthy foods with high fat are integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and ensuring good gut health. Fibre also helps our bodies process more energy, meaning kidneys are also among the best foods for energy, too.
Kidney beans also contain numerous essential vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins (which are vital so that the body can break down food and utilise energy) and folate (which helps the body form red blood cells).
#15 - Pecans
As with most nuts, these healthy high fat, low carb foods pack a punch in terms of nutrients. Pecans are full of protein, fats and fibre, and can keep us ticking with the energy they give us.
Pecans are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which help protect our hearts and lower our cholesterol. This concentration of good fats means they not only lower cholesterol, they actively help the body produce compounds that aid the liver and other vital organs.
Not only are they healthy, but these healthy high fat foods make a superb swap for snacks high in saturated fats such as crisps, chips or chocolate. Although they are highly nutritious, these healthy foods are high in fat and calories too, so be mindful to consume in moderation.
Not only do pecans contain a great helping of good fats, they’re also a great source of protein and antioxidants. Just one handful of pecans can contain around 3g of protein, which is essential in the body for maintenance and growth.
These healthy high fat foods can be eaten alone as a snack, or tossed into salads and pasta dishes. They can be bought in most supermarkets, and are a key component in some of the best healthy cereal bars.
#16 - Brazil Nuts
Arguably one of the healthiest nuts out there, Brazil nuts are another member of the nut family high in fats. One serving of brazil nuts contains a huge 19g of total fats!
However, 36% of these fats come from polyunsaturated fats, which as we’ve already explored are the “good” fats we need in our diets.
A systematic study of the health benefits of Brazil nuts has shown that, when participants were given a 20g/50g serving of brazil nuts daily, their cholesterol levels dropped compared to those receiving no brazil nuts.
This is thought to be due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in them. Brazil nuts are also studied for the effect they have on our blood vessels by relaxing them and allowing blood to flow smoother, thus in turn lowering our blood pressure.
As with most nuts, they are also high in protein (great for muscle growth and repair) and fibre (great for digestive and intestinal health). Fibre has been shown to help regulate our cholesterol levels too, and may even lower our risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Traditionally, Brazil nuts are eaten alone as a snack whether it be raw or roasted. You can also add them into homemade protein bars, or chopped them up and use as yoghurt toppings.
#17 - Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and have a subtle flavour profile. One serving contains 23g of total fats and around 200kcals.
While this may seem a staggeringly high fat content, the majority of these fats are monounsaturated fats and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).
The MUFAs present in these healthy high fat foods are not as readily available in other nuts, making them a great addition to the diet over other nuts. Palmitoleic acid (Omega-7 fatty acid) is the MUFA found in macadamia nuts. This acid has shown the potential to speed up our body's fat metabolism, and is also being studied for the effect it has on lowering the risk of strokes.
Aside from the fat content, these healthy foods that are high in fat are also high in antioxidants, which help the body fight oxidative stress, one of the key contributors towards chronic and serious diseases.
In fact, macadamias actually boast some of the highest levels of all nuts, meaning macadamias have additional benefits over not only other foods, but other nuts, too!
Macadamias are healthiest when raw but they can be roasted to add extra flavour, or bought as a nut butter and spread on wholewheat toast or sandwiches.
#18 - Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are perhaps not the first thing that come to mind when we think of healthy foods with high fat content, especially as they are generally eaten in small quantities and therefore may not provide us with many benefits.
However, adding sesame seeds or sesame oil to our diets regularly, can improve our health over time.
Adding one tablespoon of these healthy high fat foods to your lunchtime salad or evening dinner can provide you with an extra 14g of total fats. They are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturates.
Whilst both these healthy fats help lower cholesterol levels, sesame seeds also contain a compound known as lignans which also help lower our cholesterol levels.
Due to their high levels of healthy fats and high protein content, sesame seeds are a great aid if you are trying to lose weight. Including foods in your diet that are both high in protein and fat can keep you feeling fuller for longer, lessening your need to snack throughout the day.
Sesame seeds are most commonly used to make tahini (a condiment that originated in the Middle East), but you can also add them into salads, or use them as a crust on salmon for your evening meal.
They’re also an ideal way to supplement ZMA levels in your body, which is superb for anyone looking to build muscle or train for their next challenge.
#19 - Salmon
Speaking of salmon, it's next on our list of the best high fat foods!
Salmon is most commonly known for being high in Omega fatty acids, particularly Omega 3.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for maintaining a healthy heart. They are predominantly found in oily fish, but vegetarians and vegans can receive them through plant sources such as flax and chia seeds.
There are three main types of Omega 3 fatty acids, Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). ALA is an essential fatty acid that we need to gain through our diet, whereas EPA and DHA are compounds that our bodies can make in small amounts.
EPAs and DHAs help protect the heart and the blood vessels. They do this by helping improve our circulation, preventing blood clots and lowering our blood pressure. Aside from being a fatty acid, ALA is also known to have antioxidant properties.
In fact, a recent study found that ALA could possess anti-inflammatory qualities, thus reducing the chances of weight gain and even disease.
In the body ALA helps us digest food, absorb nutrients and aids in preventing free radicals from causing oxidative stress.
Salmon is also a great source of protein, as well as a way to receive a dose of many vitamins and minerals, which all make it one of the best foods for lung health and heart health.
This entrant on our list of the best healthy high fat foods is high in all of the B vitamins. B vitamins all have separate functions but the main collective responsibility of the B vitamin family is to turn the food we consume into energy we can use.
Salmon is a great alternative for fattier meat products as it contains less of the bad fats, and more of the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Not to mention its versatility - this healthy high fat food goes well as your main protein source in a dish, or as a part of a salad.
#20 - Tuna
Similarly to salmon, tuna is also high in the good fats our body needs, and in particular Omega-3.
Most people opt for canned tuna as it is cheap and readily available. One can of tuna contains on average 190kcals and just 1.5g of fat. Although it is low in fat, it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Different varieties of tuna contain different amounts of fat, and this can depend on how the tuna is canned, whether that’s in brine, water or sunflower oil. When it comes to choosing between these 3, we’d opt for water - this allows the maximum amount of Omega-3 to be absorbed, without the additional calories or fat content that oil may bring.
Canned tuna tends to contain more sodium than fresh tuna to help preserve it, but canned tuna in water has been found to contain higher levels of DHA, with a study from the Journal of Food Science finding that canned tuna contains higher concentrations of the helpful fatty acid.
In addition to the healthy fats found in tuna, you can also find Vitamin D and selenium. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone health, and selenium is used in the body to aid our immune system.
There are numerous ways to eat tuna: on top of a jacket potato, in a salad, as a fresh fillet with vegetables, grilled as an aquatic barbeque alternative, the list goes on.
Still uncertain about this healthy high fat food? OriGym’s comprehensive article answers the question: Is Tuna Good For You?
#21 - Sardines
Sardines have been eaten for hundreds of years but their popularity has decreased in recent years, especially with the rise in popularity of salmon or tuna. However, if you knew the health benefits these healthy high fat foods provide us, you may just add them to your next meal!
As with most fish, sardines are a brilliant source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to help reduce blood clots, which in turn may help reduce our risk of heart attacks and strokes. They’re also an ideal pre-yoga supplement, as they actively combat inflammation which can impede your performance.
Sardines have a high oil content which contributes to their overall fat levels. To give you an example, a 100g can of sardines in oil contains around 11g of fat.
They are one of the most concentrated sources of the fatty acids DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). Both of these fatty acids contribute largely to the health benefits of sardines. They help reduce inflammation in the body, which can in turn reduce our risk of chronic illnesses, which inflammation is regularly the root cause of.
Furthermore, they contain high levels of calcium and Vitamin D, both of which work in conjunction to promote bone health.
Sardines are available fresh at most supermarkets, but it’s recommended to buy tinned as fresh sardines are highly perishable.
#22 - Halloumi
This healthy high fat food burst on to the food scene in recent years, with many people consuming it for its high calcium and high healthy fat content, not to mention its delicious flavour when grilled or fried.
It’s also adored by people on ketogenic (keto) diets for its protein/fat/carbohydrate ratio, or those looking for healthy high fat foods to gain weight.
One serving of halloumi contains 9g of total fats, but this can increase if it’s deep fried and cooked in oil. Depending on the amount and type of oil it's fried in, this can increase its levels of unhealthy or saturated fats.
However, halloumi, unlike most other products on our list, doesn't actually contain a high amount of healthy fats (poly- or mono-unsaturated) but as it’s high in other nutrients, it still makes for one of the best high fat healthy foods.
Halloumi is full of calcium, which is essential for maintaining and strengthening bones and teeth. It’s also used as a meat alternative in some vegetarian recipes due to its resistance to melting when grilled and its high protein content.
However, some versions of this cheese may be made with animal byproducts, so if you are vegetarian be sure to read the packaging when purchasing.
What’s more is that studies have found, when consuming full fat dairy products (such as halloumi) in moderation, our risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes is actually reduced.
Halloumi can be added into salads, made into fries and deep fried (although this is not the healthiest option), and it can also be eaten in wraps and pitta breads.
#23 - Pumpkin Seed
As with sesame seeds, you may not be aware of the significant amount of healthy fat found in pumpkin seeds, given their small size. In fact, one portion of pumpkin seeds can contain up to 5g of fat.
The majority of fats found in pumpkin seeds can be attributed to Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-6 fatty acids are a member of the polyunsaturated fats family mainly found in nuts and seeds. They are essential for our body to function effectively, and need to be gained throughout our diet as we don't produce enough of these naturally.
These fatty acids are primarily responsible for turning the food we eat into energy, and providing support to the immune system. While Omega-3 fatty acids are more important in the body than Omega-6, we still need a good level of both.
Pumpkin seeds are high in the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. Magnesium is needed for over 500 chemical reactions within our body, with the primary ones being controlling our blood pressure, maintaining healthy bones and regulating our blood sugars.
They are also high in numerous antioxidants, which help reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases, and amino acids, which support the body’s development and maintenance. Learn more in OriGym's thorough report on amino acid benefits.
If you’ve decided you want to reap the benefits of pumpkin seeds, there are numerous ways you can add them to your diet. They can be sprinkled on top of yoghurt, or added into salads or soups for a boost to your healthy fats intake.
#24 - Milk & Milk Alternatives
It’s commonly understood that milk is high in fats. After all, this is the reason we have whole milk, semi skimmed milk, and semi skimmed milk - to give consumers a choice.
The fats in whole cow's milk comes from 60% saturated fats, and the rest are unsaturated fats. Now whilst this statistic may seem scary, and may even put you off drinking milk altogether, don’t be scared just yet.
Semi skimmed milk contains 50% less saturated fat than whole milk, so at a glance this would seem to be the better option - and you’d be right. Semi skimmed milk contains exactly the same amount of nutrients as whole, without all the extra saturated fats.
Incorporating full-fat or half-fat dairy and milk into your diet can be done, and as we’ve already discovered, full fat dairy can even reduce your risks of developing Type 2 diabetes. But it’s vital to do so in moderation.
Of course though, there are a wide variety of milks out there, ranging from cow's milk, to almond and coconut milk, so which is best for us? Each type of milk has disadvantages for people depending on their preferences or allergies.
For vegans, dairy free milks such as soya or almond are the way to go, but if you have young children, then whole milk would be the best choice as it contains a higher calcium content.
Below we’ve listed some pros and cons about various types of milk, so you can choose the milk or milk alternative that’s right for you and your family:
(Whole) Cow's Milk – High in calories and saturated fats but provides essential vitamins and minerals, especially to young children. An ideal choice if you’re looking for healthy high fat foods for babies, or mixing your protein powder with cow’s milk for an extra dose of protein.
Almond Milk – Lacks the protein found in other milks but it’s low in calories and a great choice for vegans.
Soya Milk – Low in calories but still high in protein unlike almond milk but a soy allergy is common so consumers should be mindful of this
Coconut Milk – A good dairy free option for nut allergy sufferers but lacks the protein found in cow's milk.
#25 - Duck
Now, you might notice that this is the only meat product we’ve listed here. This is due to the majority of meat products containing high amounts of fats which are generally saturated or “bad” fats. Duck is arguably the only exception to this.
Duck is a much richer source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats than most other animal proteins, but the fat content of the duck can vary widely on how it’s prepared. A roasted duck breast contains only 3g of fat, but what really sets duck apart is its excellent flavour profile.
The majority of the fat found in duck is found between the skin and the flesh, and consuming duck without the skin and with the fat rendered off is a way to dramatically reduce the fat content.
Duck contains important fatty acids such as Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Whilst oily fish is generally a great way to receive your recommended daily intake of Omega acids, duck is also high on the list.
Replacing your usual red meat with duck will not only help reduce your saturated fat content, but it will also boost your heart health. In fact, recent studies have uncovered that duck breast meat can have a huge positive impact on human health.
While we’d recommend not using it too regularly, duck fat is also incredibly versatile. It’s most regularly used to cook roast potatoes due to the delicious flavour it added.
Aside from the fat content, duck contains high levels of iron (necessary for maintaining the integrity of red blood cells), protein (used in the repair and growth of muscle tissue) and Vitamin B6 which all support a healthy lifestyle.
Although it may seem luxurious, duck is available in most big supermarkets, and offers a tasty alternative to any meat dish, as well as additional nutritional value.
Before You Go!
To conclude, we've learnt that healthy high fat foods are by no means bad, especially when consumed as part of a balanced diet. We’ve explored a wide variety of foods high in healthy fat, as well as some suggestions on how you can implement them into your diet.
But if you’re already confident in your nutritional knowledge, then transform that expertise into a career. OriGym’s formally accredited sports nutrition course gives you everything you need to flourish in a job you’re passionate about.
Download our FREE comprehensive prospectus today, and explore how you can get started in a career as a nutritionist.
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Used by Fitness Professionals
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