If you’re on a mission to eat healthier, more nutritious meals, you might think you need to reduce your fat consumption. But fat is an essential component of a healthy diet, and focusing on including lots of healthy foods that contain fat is important for so many reasons.
First things first: dietary fat is not always the enemy, and not all fat is created equal. Unsaturated fats, often referred to as the ‘healthy’ fats, when eaten in moderation can be part of a balanced diet and enhance your fitness goals. Fat helps to keep hair and skin healthy, protects organs, contributes to brain development, and enables us to store the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, while not completely bad for you, are much better to eat in smaller amounts. It’s this form of fat that is generally associated with high cholesterol, hypertension, and other health issues.
- Read more: Unsaturated vs saturated fat
It is, however, always advisable that you seek medical advice before you commence any changes to your diet or exercise routine, and the following is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or supervision.
As well as being rich in protein, eggs are a great source of fat, with one egg containing around 5g. The majority of this is unsaturated fat, with just 1.6g being saturated.
With about 6 g of protein per egg, eggs are packed with essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Your body needs nine essential amino acids, and you can get all nine of them in eggs — along with other key nutrients such as Vitamin B12, phosphorus and antioxidants.
Eggs are an easy food to incorporate into your diet. Enjoy them for breakfast, poached, scrambled or soft boiled; use them to make a frittata loaded with vegetables; or mix into a stir fry dish for dinner. You can even hard boil them for a nutritious snack to eat on the go.
Nuts contain their fair share of fat — about 15g in a 1oz serving. Not only are these fats beneficial for your overall health, they can satisfy your palate and provide you with vital nutrients, such as protein and iron.
Along with being a significant source for monounsaturated fats, one ounce of nuts also includes vitamin E, copper, manganese, phosphorus and fiber.
You can simply enjoy nuts on their own for a satisfying and nutritious snack, or sprinkle them on salads and stews for added crunch. You can also enjoy natural nut spreads (that are palm oil free), including peanut, almond and hazelnut butter. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation — nuts are very healthy, but they do contain their fair share of calories.
- Read more: 11 phosphorus rich foods
If you think seeds are for the birds, think again. Seeds can do the body a lot of good, and in them you’ll find iron, calcium, magnesium and fiber. They can become a regular part of a healthy diet.
One serving of seeds (around 1oz) contains 12g of polyunsaturated fat. Sunflower, flaxseed, pumpkin and chia are examples of seeds highly lauded for their nutritional value. Enjoy them in soups, salads, cereals or add them to yogurt or, as with nuts, enjoy them on their own as a snack.
4. Dark chocolate
If you’re looking for a sweet treat that still supports your health goals, grab a piece of dark chocolate. As with the other foods on this list, it contains healthy fats, some 8.9 g in a 1oz serving, but it is a healthy alternative to other snacks that can’t say the same – especially since it contains 2mg of iron and 158mg of potassium.
Dark chocolate also has its share of important minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus and fiber.
5. Oily fish
Tuna, salmon and other oily fish are a fantastic source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Omega- 3 fatty acids are necessary for the maintenance of brain and heart functions.
Along with protein, vitamins and minerals, you’ll get 4.5g of fat per serving, as well as potassium and calcium.
Add to this the fact that fish is a great source of zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium, you have yourself a great reason for enjoying a good salmon fish cake or tuna sandwich on wholemeal bread.
There’s been a lot of research into the benefits of probiotics, including probiotic foods like yogurt, on the digestive system. But it also has its share of other benefits, including healthy fats.
In a 3.5oz (100g) serving of full fat Greek yogurt, you’ll get around 4.4g of fat and 9g of protein. The benefits of yogurt may be enhanced by adding healthy ingredients such as nuts, seeds, or fruits such as apple, banana or strawberries.
Beans provide considerable nutritional value as they are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals and 0.9g of fat per cup size portion.
As well as being a great source of protein, needed for building and maintaining muscle mass, beans also contain lots of fiber believed to have such benefits as lowering cholesterol, reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Add them to your favorite dish as a side, or even combine them with rice or chili.
This nutrient-dense food is loaded with nutritional goodness, including magnesium, potassium, protein, fiber, vitamins C, E, K and a number of B-vitamins. They are also a fantastic source of monounsaturated fat.
Avocados are great made into a spread or dip. They can also be added to salads, incorporated into smoothies and desserts, or as an accompaniment to chilis and stews.
Olives are loaded with antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which helps to protect bones. Olives also contain 11–15% fat, 74% of which is oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid. It is the main component of olive oil.
Incorporate olives into your diet by adding them to salads or using them as dips, pizza toppings or simply on their own as a snack.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.
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Nathaniel Lee is a writer, journalist, author and podcaster from Philadelphia, with over 15 years of experience. His work has been published in The Philadelphia Sunday Sun, The Scoop USA, The Public Record, The Westside Weekly, The Metro, The Philadelphia Tribune, The University City Review, The Philadelphia Free Press, and the Southwest Globe Times