Understandably, the phrase “list of healthy fats” might make you cringe. For example, who could forget the “fat free” dieting fads in the ‘90s? These “fat free” and “low fat” diets promised instant weight loss and better health. However, numerous scientific studies have debunked this myth.
In fact, eating a low fat diet that’s high in other ingredients can have the opposite effect. For example, a diet that’s low in fat but full of refined carbohydrates can actually cause more weight gain! Currently, there are more and more popular current diets that promote a generous balance of healthy fats.
For example, the Ketogenic (Keto) diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, has fallen into public favor over the past decade. Furthermore, studies have linked this diet to both weight loss and better health.
But First, Break it Down:
Not All Fats Are Created Equal
By all means, not all fat is created equal! It is important to realize that some types of fats have some sobering negative affects on your health. At the same time, some high-fat foods have truly life-changing benefits!
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a clear distinction between healthy and unhealthy fats. In general, saturated fats and trans fats are considered “bad.” In contrast, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids are “good.” As with all rules, there are certain exceptions. In the list of healthy fats below, you’ll find more in-depth descriptions of each food’s nutrient composition.
The Complete List of Foods with Healthy Fats
1. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the cannabis sativa plant. Although hemp belongs to the cannabis plant family, it doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. But what hemp seeds lack in all things “trippy,” they make up for in their nutritional value.
Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds & Hemp Oil
Hemp seeds, often called hemp hearts, are truly superfoods! They contain numerous health benefits.
Here are the main benefits of hemp seeds and oil:
- First, hemp seeds are a wonderful source of protein. In fact, 25% of their calories are come from their protein. Specifically, hemp seeds contain two kinds of proteins, edestin and albumin, which are easier for the body to digest than protein from animal sources. Both of these proteins contain a respectable amount of essential amino acids. Amino acids are crucial for building protein, facilitating healing from wounds, and maintaining healthy skin, hair, bones, and muscles.
- Regular consumption of these healthy fats are good for cardiovascular health. One of these amino acids in particular, called arganine, many lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Hemp seeds are 30% fat. This healthy fat is comprised of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are truly “essential.” Since our bodies don’t produce them naturally, we must obtain them from food.Your body’s cells need these fatty acids to regulating proper nerve and brain functioning.
- Hemp hearts are also a good source of iron. This is especially good news for vegans and vegetarians, who often experience iron deficiency.
- Additionally, hemp seeds are an overall good source of Vitamin E and other important nutrients. These nutrients include minerals like zinc, potassium, sodium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and zinc. Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant that helps prevent disease, prevent premature aging, lower inflammation, and promote a healthy immune system. Additionally, Vitamin E is known for its soothing and moisturizing effects on skin.
- The Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in hemp seeds counteracts prolactin, a hormone responsible for many symptoms of PMS. According to many studies, GLA eases symptoms like breast pain, bloating, and mood swings. For example, one study found that women who consumed 210 mg of GLA reported a noticeable reduction in symptoms.
- If you want foods with the best vitamins for brain fog and focus, then you need to eat hemp seeds! Not only do they improve concentration, but they also help fend off brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
For more benefits of hemp hearts, check out “How to SUPER-CHARGE Your Day with Hemp Seeds”
How to Eat Hemp Seeds
You can enjoy hemp seeds in a variety of ways. While some people like to roast or cook them, they’re also delicious in their purest form. You can either eat them whole or grind them up for mixing.
I recommend organic, shelled hemp seeds if you just want a little something to nibble on. They’re super tasty sprinkled over salads and soups, too.
You can also grind them up and stir them in with yogurt, intensify Bircher Muesli with an “extra touch of nut,” or add them to your smoothies.
Additional Healthy Fats like Hemp Hearts:
Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds are also excellent sources of health fats.
2. Coconut and Coconut Oil
Coconuts have been used for everything from ceremonial festivals and weddings to natural skin moisturizers.
And this make sense, since they’re overflowing with benefits for your mind, health, skin, and hair!
In fact, coconuts are the perfect example of saturated fat being a healthy, good thing. In other words, saturated fat isn’t an absolute evil. Interestingly, the saturated fat in coconuts is composed of medium-chain fatty acids that are easier for the body to digest.
Here are the main reasons coconuts made it into our official list of healthy fats:
- First, coconuts are incredible brain boosters. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconuts create ketones, which fuel brain health. Ketones energize the brain. Furthermore, they may help prevent or ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease or the memory impairment that can come with age.
- Additionally, coconuts may assist in curing hypertension and reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol. As a result, these healthy fats can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Coconuts also help prevent Type I Diabetes, as demonstrated in this study published in the Journal of Diabetes Mellitus.
- Another benefits of coconuts and coconut oil is that they contain antioxidants, naturally shielding you from free radical damage. Free radical damage can cause serious health problems like cancer, heart disease, and premature aging.
- Finally, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which promotes a stronger immune system.
For more health benefits of coconuts, check out “8 Ways Coconut Can Supercharge Your Health”
Different Ways to Reap the Health Benefits of Coconut:
- One way to let coconuts work their magic is by drinking
coconut water. This will not only quench your thirst but also reduce your risk of dehydration on hot, sweltering days.
- Additionally, my favorite DIY bath product is a simple mixture of coconut oil, sugar, and lavender essential oil.
- Pinterest is your friend when it comes to finding thousands of recipes with coconut flour in an instant!
- In order to stock up on quick, easy vegan breakfasts, order some Mu Mu Muesli! This is a preservative-free, non-GMO organic breakfast cereal composed of just 8 whole, raw ingredients.
3. Dark Chocolate
Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is composed of pure cacao. And it is quite the brain boosting food! It’s quite distinct from milk chocolate bars due to its slightly bitter taste, as it’s derived directly from the Theobroma cacao tree.
The following list shows five proven reasons why dark chocolate belongs on this exclusive list of healthy fats:
- Somewhat surprisingly, dark chocolate has more antioxidants than many foods well-known for their antioxidants, such as acai berries and blueberries. These antioxidants include polyphenols, flavanols and flavonoids. According to an article published in the Chemistry Central Journal, cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit!”
- As mentioned above, dark chocolate is great for your brain! For example, one study found that dark chocolate improved cognition and in elderly individuals with slight cognitive impairment. Another study examined the effects of consuming dark chocolate for five days in a row in young, healthy individuals. The results? There was definitely an increase in blood flow to the brain.
- Specifically, flavanols are the antioxidants that really help dark chocolate work its magic. The flavanols improve vascular function, resulting in healthier blood pressure levels and improve blood flow.
- Another benefit of dark chocolate is its ability to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. In fact, it has been shown to lower the LDL (the “bad type of cholesterol) while increasing HDL (the “good” type of cholesterol.) LDL cholesterol is dangerous because it can stick together and form danger clots in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack. Another way dark chocolate lessens the likelihood of heart disease is by decreasing insulin resistance. This is important because insulin resistance often leads to cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
- In its rawest form, cacao contains high amounts of anandamide, or the “bliss molecule,” as we like to call it at Mu Mu Muesli. Put simply, your brain uses anandamide to regulate mood and prevent anxiety and depression. Many pharmaceutical medications target related chemicals in your brain; isn’t it wonderful that whole foods can do the same thing?
Clean Eating Tip: A Word to the Wise Re Dark Chocolate
Remember, this healthy fat is still a dessert and fits nicely at the tippy top of the food pyramid. Therefore, it is something to enjoy in moderation. But do treat yourself every once in awhile, and pat yourself on the back for choosing a treat with science-backed health benefits!
Another flavanol-rich food is cranberries, which are tasty when mixed with cacao nibs. Additionally, you’ll find all-natural cranberries in our very own Mu Mu Muesli!
Finally, a word of wisdom: not all chocolate is equal. Most popular chocolate bars are so highly processed that they’ve lost their nutritional value, and they’re also full of refined sugar. Look for the chocolate bars with the lowest amount of sugar, and make sure you see “raw cacao” on the label!
Various Ways to Enjoy This Healthy Fat:
- Of course, pure dark chocolate bars from health food stores are simple yet classic ways to satisfy your cravings. Enjoy a few squares by themselves for a quick, easy treat.
- Additionally, you can make your own (vegan) homemade dark chocolate syrup with sea salt and brown sugar. Drizzle it over some gourmet pancakes and enjoy a heavenly breakfast!
- You can also concoct your own trail mix of antioxidant-rich foods. For example, I recommend combining equal parts dark chocolate nibs, almonds, and dried cranberries.
For more healthy homemade recipes, follow our “Homemade Foods” board on Pinterest!
*Chocolate lovers, take note: researchers at Harvard Medical School are currently conducting a long-term clinical study of the health benefits of taking cocoa flavanols on a daily basis. This is no small study; roughly 22,000 individuals from across the United States will be participating! Visit the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) page for more details!
4. Goat Cheese
Chèvre, another name for goat cheese, contains a whole lot of healthy goodness. Specifically, it has vital nutrients like Vitamin B2, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, Vitamin A, and six grams of healthy fat per one ounce serving. In other words, that’s a composition of 72% fat, 25% protein, and just 3% carbohydrates.
Here’s Why Goat Cheese Made the Cut:
- Like coconut, goat cheese is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids. The body absorbs and uses these fats more easily than long-chain fatty acids. Because of this, a full serving of goat cheese can leave you feeling full longer. As a result, you’re less inclined to graze between meals – and that’s why weight loss becomes possible, if that’s something you’re looking for.
- Certain goat cheeses contain probiotics, which are arguably the most important nutrient you can obtain from food! This is because they help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which is responsible for maintaining a strong immune system, reduce inflammation, regulate mental health, and generally regulate your system as a whole.
- Interestingly, goat cheese is a safe food if you’re prone to acne or oily skin. According to the Journal of Dermatological Science, the lauric acid in goat cheese helps combat Propionibacterium acnes, an inflammatory bacterium which may cause acne.
- Furthermore, goat cheese has more medium-chained fatty acids than cow’s cheese. Therefore, it’s a better choice if you’re trying to watch your weight. That’s because, since cow’s cheese is more difficult to break down, your body is more likely to store it long-term as fat.
Ways to Enjoy this Healthy Fat:
- One go-to way to method is to top off your favorite salad of fresh greens, fruit, and nuts with some soft goat cheese crumbles.
- However, there are so many more options out there! In order to open the doorway to some of the best goat cheese recipes on the planet, check out the “Healthy Fats” section of our “Homemade Foods” board on Pinterest. Without a doubt, this is the #1 way to get those creative juices flowing!
In addition to goat cheese, full-fat yogurt is a similar option with healthy fats and plenty of probiotics. In order to avoid excessively processed, sugary yogurts, consider some healthier alternatives. First, you can easily make your own yogurt. Another option is to only buy organic yogurt without sugar additives.
Hint: Although unsweetened yogurt is a bit bland on its own, adding a little raw honey or maple syrup adds just the right amount of natural sweetness. For a full breakfast that will keep you feeling full for hours, make your own yogurt/muesli parfait.
The avocado is a bit of an odd duck in comparison to other fruits, precisely because of its high levels of healthy fats. In contrast, most fruits are comprised largely of carbohydrates. However, this creamy, versatile fruit is incredibly nutrient-rich and one cup alone gives you a heart-healthy dose of 22 grams of fat as well as a respectable amount of fiber, Vitamin C, folate, and Vitamin K. It also contains smaller quantities of B Vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, Vitamin A, and phosphorous.
Yes, avocados truly are superfoods! Here are the top 4 reasons they made the cut for our list of healthy fats:
- First, avocados contain prebiotic fiber that helps maintain a healthy gut. This type of fiber “fertilizes” the probiotics, or “good bacteria,” in your gut. Remember, gut health is the headquarters of a gigantic part of your immune system.
- Additionally, multiple studies have shown that eating avocados may lower your risk for heart disease. This is because they lower blood triglycerides and LDL (“bad” cholesterol), both of which can cause heart disease. They also increase HDL (“good” cholesterol).
- If you want to protect your eyes, then add these healthy fats to your diet! Avocados contain the precise antioxidants your eyes need – zeaxanthin and lutein. Studies have shown that these protect your eyes against cataracts and age-related tissue degeneration.
- Not only do avocadoes contain potent antioxidants, but they have the nutrients necessary to help your body more easily absorb these antioxidants.
- Finally, consider this: avocados are better sources of potassium than bananas! While potassium is often overlooked, your body really needs it for healthy kidneys, a strong nervous system, and a healthy heart and muscles.
Ways to Enjoy Avocados:
- First, a simple, and healthy breakfast recipe is ripe, raw avocados halved, pitted, and filled with soft boiled eggs. Organic, creamy avocados plus farm fresh eggs = a heavenly source of protein and healthy fats in the morning!
- One of the most healthy pancake toppings is mashed avocado! I recommend adding a pinch of salt. You can also experiment with sprinkling a few dark cacao nibs on top of the mashed avocado. Although this combination is unusual, it might become your new favorite way to enjoy pancakes!
- Another favorite is avocado spread, or a vegan version of butter. Again, visit our curated Pinterest boards like “Homemade Foods,” “Vegan + Vegetarian Lifestyle,” or “Healthy Foods + Recipes.” Oh, and of course you’ll find some breakfast-oriented inspiration all over the “Healthy Breakfast” board!
Now That You Have A Solid List of Healthy Fats…
Now that you have a list of healthy fats, don’t be afraid to have some fun with them! If you ever feel guilty about eating fats, just refer to all the fascinating scientific studies referenced in this post. Better yet, Pin this post for future reference!
If you enjoyed this post, or you know people who still see fat as a “scary” ingredient, share the good news! We’d greatly appreciate a share on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever platform you use most.