Do you feel misled about which foods with healthy fats are good for weight loss and safe for cooking? Based on scientific evidence, here is a list of the best foods with healthy fats for any purpose.
Table of Contents
- What Are Healthy Fats?
- 5 Healthy Fats for Cooking 🍳
- 3 Staple Foods With Healthy Fats
- 6 Foods With Healthy Fats for Weight Loss
- 4 Foods With Healthy Fats for Athletes 👟
- Foods With Healthy Fats for Muscle Gain
- 5 Vegan Foods With Healthy Fats 🌿
- 3 Foods With Heart-Healthy Fats ❤️
- 3 Cancer-Preventing Foods ♋
- 4 Healthy Fat Foods for Diabetics 🍬
- 3 Foods with Healthy Fats to Boost Your Immune System ✊
- 4 Good Fats Against Inflammation 🔥
- Can You Eat Too Much Healthy Fats?
- Summary 📜
- Healthy Omega-3 Fats
- Healthy Fats FAQ ❓
What Are Healthy Fats?
Healthy fats are more complex than most copywriters like to deal with them. Therefore, one cannot simply make general statements.
Nevertheless, I will derive the essential statements for you, which can be made based on well-known terms and characteristics.
Whether fat is healthy or unhealthy depends mainly on how it is used.
So, one or the other aha-moment will help you to find the right healthy fat for the right purpose in the future.
Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fatty Acids
The differentiation between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids does not tell you which fats are healthy and which are not.
Moreover, fats always occur as a combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Accordingly, there are no purely saturated or unsaturated fats in nature. Oleic acid, which makes olive oil so healthy, is, for example, the dominant fatty acid in pork fat.
Furthermore, it is monounsaturated and not a saturated fatty acid. On the other hand, olive oil as well consists of 15% saturated fatty acids.
In like manner, coconut oil has the highest proportion of saturated fats, although it’s vegetable oil.
Nevertheless, the differentiation between saturated and unsaturated fats is purely a matter of chemistry.
Fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms to which hydrogen atoms are attached:
- Saturated fatty acids: All free spaces are filled with hydrogen atoms
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: One place remains free. This means a double bond of carbon atoms instead of another hydrogen atom.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Two or more places remain free or double bonds are present.
And what’s the essence for practical use?
- The higher the proportion of saturated fatty acids, the better suited for cooking and storage
- The higher the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, the more sensitive to heat, light, air, and pressure
Accordingly, saturated fats are more difficult to damage.
Possible damage – so-called oxidation – can have adverse health effects, since fatty acids are the essential building blocks of our cells (DiNicolantonio et al. 20191).
Are Unsaturated Fatty Acids Unhealthy?
Not at all. Because polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids can provide outstanding health benefits, nevertheless, they are more fragile than saturated fatty acids.
Therefore, the following statements about fats can be derived from their origin:
- Animal fats are more suitable for cooking, as their ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids is higher
- Except for coconut oil, vegetable fats should not be exposed to high heat since unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids are predominant in other vegetable oils
- Marine fats are fragile too since unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids dominate
Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Since there are essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself, they must be supplied through food.
But what does omega-3 and omega-6 mean?
Once again, it is about the chemical structure. Omega is an end of the chain of carbon atoms. The number indicates at which position the first unsaturated carbon atom is located.
For example, this means:
- Omega-3 fatty acid: The first double bond is on the third carbon atom from the omega end because it’s not saturated with a hydrogen atom.
- Omega-6 fatty acid: The first double bond is at the 6th carbon atom of the chain.
Since the name just indicates the structure, one cannot merely say either all omega-3 or all omega-6 fatty acids are healthy or unhealthy.
Nevertheless, the western world now has a severe problem when it comes to the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
With this in mind, research suggests an optimal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of no more than 1:2 for good health (Okuyama et al. 19962).
However, average Americans have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 1:17. (Singh et al. 20103).
Such an imbalance can permanently set your body on fire through uncontrolled inflammation.
In addition to sugar, industrially processed foods also contain mostly refined omega-6 fats.
Therefore, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, allergies, and autoimmune diseases are becoming more and more widespread (Simopoulos 20024).
Since hydrogenation of vegetable oils was invented in 1910, cheap fats have been marketed to us as plant-based and healthy.
With this in mind, the farmer next door doesn’t quickly go to the field, gets himself a corncob, and mixes corn oil for lunch. Because to do so, you need multi-million dollar equipment.
Accordingly, conventional vegetable oils are miles away from natural products.
5 Healthy Fats for Cooking 🍳
Few other topics cause as much confusion as which healthy fats are suitable for cooking and frying.
And this has been initiated in the past decades, primarily by advertising unsaturated vegetable oils as healthy cooking oils that they aren’t.
In short, when frying, it depends on how high the proportion of saturated fatty acids is. That’s because saturated fatty acids remain stable when exposed to high heat, while unsaturated fatty acids are easily damaged.
Contrary to common belief, saturated fatty acids are not fundamentally unhealthy. Instead, they protect against cardiovascular diseases rather than promoting them (Mozaffarian et al. 20045).
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1. Coconut Oil
It is the only vegetable oil that is very heat resistant due to its saturated fatty acid content of more than 90%. Therefore coconut oil is the one choice and only choice for healthy vegetable oil for frying.
In contrast to the high smoke point of lauric acid in coconut oil, the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are suitable for low-heat cooking, but not frying.
Due to the low proportion of unstable unsaturated fatty acids in virgin coconut oil, it’s not oxidizing and getting rancid quickly. Hence, coconut oil is shelf-stable.
Therefore, we can call it a healthy fat. Due to lauric acid, it is also the healthy fat for cooking that helps you losing weight (Liau et al. 20116).
Nevertheless, take care when purchasing. Coconut oil should not be confused with coconut fat, which is usually available in cubes and is often industrially refined.
Therefore, watch out for organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
Besides coconut oil, clarified butter or ghee was a traditional fat for frying in India. And the Indians knew what they were doing. Because both healthy fats have a low proportion of unstable omega-6 fatty acids, they are suitable for high-heat cooking.
Unfortunately, Western influence has managed to get refined omega-6 vegetable oils into pans in India by now (DiNicolantonio et al. 20197).
Since ghee is clarified butter, it is 100% pure fat. Hence, ghee is not only lactose- but also protein-free.
Accordingly, ghee is the premium version of butter, which is already well suited for cooking. Due to the absence of milk protein, ghee can be the better option against inflammation.
Furthermore, it can be heated up higher. Therefore it’s also suitable for frying.
Nevertheless, every fat suffers some damage at very high heat. That’s why fried foods should remain the exception to your diet – even when using coconut oil.
As it consists of two-thirds saturated fatty acids, butter is suitable for cooking.
Because it contains less than 5% unsaturated fatty acids, butter is a much healthier fat for cooking than vegetable oil except coconut oil.
If you also eat it raw, I highly recommend grass-fed butter because of its better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Therefore, the best butter for cooking is organic grass-fed butter.
Grandma used to be right since animal fats are suitable for cooking due to the predominance of saturated fatty acids.
Unfortunately, the marketing machinery of industrial vegetable oil has not just influenced the western world, but also blue zones. Those are parts of the world known for the longevity of their citizens.
For example, the switch to vegetable oils has tremendously shortened life expectancy in Okinawa in the 1990s.
Before the Second World War, the Japanese of this region used to have the longest life expectancy in the world. And this despite – or perhaps because – they traditionally used lard for cooking (Okuyama et al. 19968).
With this in mind, it makes sense that many traditional recipes also use lard for cooking or frying. Since the fat composition is more advantageous, I recommend going for organic lard.
5. Beef Tallow
If you have a look at the fat composition of animal fats, beef tallow is well suited for cooking.
Among animal fats, it has the highest proportion of saturated fatty acids except for butter and ghee.
Also, lamb fat is on an equal level because it consists of over 50% saturated fatty acids and contains hardly any unsaturated fatty acids too.
If the fat is from grass-fed beef, the fatty acid profile is even better.
3 Staple Foods With Healthy Fats
Although avocados might not have the most favorable ecological footprint, they can do wonders when it comes to health.
Due to the following characteristics, avocados stand out among foods with healthy fats:
- Nutrient absorption boosting
- Blood sugar regulating
Not only can the dominant monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados be quickly burned by the body, but they also increase satiety as part of any meal (Wien et al. 20139).
Besides vitamins B, C, and E, avocados are a first-class supplier of electrolytes. In particular, they are rich in potassium and magnesium.
Potassium is essential for the functioning of cells and organs in the human body. Nevertheless, only about 2% of people get the recommended daily dose from their diet (Cogswell et al.201210).
In this respect, 2.5 avocados meet the daily needs of potassium. Moreover, one avocado covers about 10% of the magnesium requirement. In cases of muscle cramps and fatigue, this electrolyte is particularly helpful.
Avocados also help to absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods. Accordingly, one study has found that avocados in salad help to absorb about 3-5 times as many antioxidants and carotenoids (Unlu et al. 200511).
Last but not least, avocados are also rich in water-soluble dietary fibers, from which our intestinal bacteria can produce short-chain fatty acids. Hence, they make a significant contribution to intestinal health.
Just like avocados, olives are a real superfood when it comes to healthy fats. Mainly responsible for this are the monounsaturated linoleic acid and a multitude of bioactive compounds in olives.
In addition to their effectiveness for heart health and against cancer, which we will cover later, olives provide the following health benefits:
- Antioxidants: Olives provide a variety of natural phenols, polyphenols, and oleuropein, which cannot be found in any other food. Therefore the combined antioxidant effects of olives are more potent than that vitamin E (Mercola 201712).
- Anti-aging effect: Oleuropein strengthens the skin through its antioxidants and UV protection. Also, studies have shown that the natural phenol tyrosol in olives can increase longevity and stress resistance (Cañuelo et al 201213; Rahmani et al. 201414).
- Bone health: Olives and olive oil counteract the age-related loss of bone mass. Furthermore, according to studies, their effect even contributes to bone formation in the elderly (Fernández-Real et al. 201215).
Besides marine omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed is a vegetable alternative that can provide remarkable benefits.
- High blood pressure
- Blood Clot
- High triglyceride levels
- Oxidation of LDL cholesterol
- Insulin Resistance
If you want to absorb omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed effectively, you need to ground it freshly. With this in mind, to fill it into a spice mill does the trick.
But be careful when buying flaxseed oil. Omega-3 oil is susceptible to heat and pressure.
If at all, use organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil, which states a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, only use it for cold dishes and always keep it in the refrigerator.
6 Foods With Healthy Fats for Weight Loss
Fat makes you fat? Not at all, because fat is the only macronutrient that does not stimulate the storage hormone insulin, which causes weight gain.
However, not every fat is helpful. Especially when losing weight, choosing the right foods with healthy fats makes all the difference.
1. Coconut Oil
The higher the fat-burning rate of a particular fat, the more likely it is to help you lose weight. With this in mind, lauric acid is a fat that the human body prefers to burn (DeLany et al. 200020).
Therefore, because 50% of the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid, it is a food with healthy fat for weight loss.
Compared to soybean oil, coconut oil significantly helps to reduce abdominal fat (Assunção et al. 200921).
Accordingly, a study with overweight people found that the consumption of virgin coconut oil reduced waist circumference by an average of one inch in just a week (Liau et al. 201122).
Because of the lauric acid in coconut oil, it shares some of the weight loss effects of MCT oil. The shorter the chain of carbon atoms, the easier it is to burn a saturated fatty acid.
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2. MCT Oil
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. Since it is derived from it but is more concentrated, MCT oil is the powerful brother of coconut oil.
Furthermore, the carbon chains of pure MCT oil are usually shorter than those of lauric acid (C12), which has 12 carbon atoms.
Accordingly, MCT oils can consist of caprylic acid (C8), which is only eight carbon atoms long. Therefore, the body metabolizes it more efficiently than ordinary coconut oil.
Studies have shown that MCT oils can reduce not only body fat but also dangerous visceral fat in and around organs (Mumme et al. 201523).
The unique feature of this type of fat is that the body doesn’t metabolize it like conventional fats. Instead, it passes from the small intestine directly to the liver. There these medium-chain fatty acids can be quickly metabolized into ketone bodies.
These fat energy sources then pass through the blood into the whole body, where they can be burned by cells more cleanly than other energy sources.
Because it can provide such a rapid energy boost, MCT oil is an excellent additive for coffee or tea. Furthermore, it helps to prevent cravings.
Also, you can use it in sauces and dressings. Since you can heat it to 320 degrees, it is also suitable for cooking.
But be cautious if you take it in the evenings. Since MCT oil brings a boost of energy, it can be challenging to fall asleep. Moreover, it is not suitable for people with liver diseases (Mercola 201724).
3. Fish Oil
Marine long-chain omega-3 fatty acids increase the basal metabolic rate. Therefore, they are ideal foods with healthy fats for weight loss (Hulbert et al. 199925).
As a result, the body burns more calories than usual, even when relaxing.
Moreover, omega-3 fish oil can reduce body fat even as an additional calorie source in an unhealthy Standard American Diet. At the same time, its outstanding effects also prevent the accumulation of dangerous visceral fat (Belzung et al. 199326).
These visceral fat deposits in and around organs have a particularly negative effect on metabolism.
Marine omega-3 fats not only improve the metabolic rate but also help to burn body fat more efficiently.
Accordingly, one study has shown substantially higher body mass index (BMI) and weight loss in overweight women due to fish oil supplementation (Kunesova et al. 200627).
In particular, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in fish oil boost fat burning and stop body fat accumulation (Mater et al. 199928).
As there is now a surge of fish oil manufacturers, products do not always contain an equal amount of EPA and DHA. Therefore, watch out for a trustworthy brand and check nutrition facts.
Notably, these polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids can oxidize quickly.
On the one hand, light and heat can be substantial risk factors. On the other hand, careful processing can free fish oil from metal contamination, which can be a drawback of raw fish.
Hence, a careful selection from a trustworthy source is essential. In short, it is not advisable to buy the cheapest fish oil. Furthermore, always keep it in the fridge.
4. Krill Oil
Krill oil is often called better fish oil. Why?
The tiny shrimp-like creatures are at the bottom of the food chain. Hence, krill oil is comparatively free from many of the contaminants that other marine animals ingest.
Also, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which help you lose weight, cannot be absorbed as well from any other source than krill oil (Ulven et al. 201129).
In short, krill oil is the same healthy fat for weight loss benefits as fish oil, but at a comparatively lower dosage.
However, if you have access to high-quality fatty fish, it can be an excellent food with healthy fats for weight loss too. As we will see later, EPA and DHA in fish and krill also help against inflammation and cancer.
5. Avocados and Avocado Oil
Not only is the nutrient density of avocados extremely high, but they are also excellent foods with healthy fats for weight loss.
As one study shows, even 5 hours after eating avocados, people are about 30% less hungry than after other meals (Wien et al. 201330).
Avocado oil is a highly concentrated version of the healthy monounsaturated fats of avocados. For example, they help to absorb minerals from other foods better.
Although avocado oil is more heat-resistant than other foods with polyunsaturated fatty acids, it should preferably be cold-pressed. If you are in doubt about this, go for a traditional avocado instead.
6. Grass-Fed Butter
As recent studies have shown, animal fats need not be as bad as their reputation.
Accordingly, studies have shown that specific healthy fats, produced in particular by cows, goats, and sheep, helps you lose weight.
These are called conjugated linoleic acids (CLA). According to studies, they help to reduce body fat and maintain muscle mass (McCrorie et al. 201131).
Furthermore, you do not have to exercise additionally or change your eating habits to achieve this effect (Gaullier et al. 200732).
However, there is one condition to be considered: The animal must have been fed naturally with grass. Therefore, milk from grass-fed beef contains about 500 times more conjugated linoleic acid than milk from grain-fed cows (Dhiman et al. 199933).
Moreover, it is not only dairy products that contain conjugated linoleic acids when fed appropriately, but also the meat itself.
4 Foods With Healthy Fats for Athletes 👟
1. Cacao Nibs
Dark chocolate is known for its antioxidants. However, few people know that the antioxidant effect of raw cocoa is about four times higher.
And a handy form of natural cocoa is pieces of cocoa beans – so-called cacao nibs.
In addition to the detox effect, it’s the high concentration of nutrients that makes natural cacao nibs an outstanding source of fat for athletes.
Among the phytonutrients and the range of vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K), the following components stand out (Mercola 201734):
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
For example, the B vitamins and electrolytes stimulate metabolic processes, help with muscle regeneration, and against fatigue.
Also, the 4:1 ratio of healthy fats to natural proteins makes cocoa nibs an excellent choice not only for athletes but also for fans of ketogenic nutrition.
To absorb the nutrients in the best possible way, freshly grind cacao nibs in a coffee grinder before consumption. This way, cocoa can also be used as a natural alternative to sweeteners to complement a wide variety of dishes.
2. Fish Oil
Especially when it comes to athletic performance, marine omega-3 fatty acids are outstanding.
According to a study with professional cyclists, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can reduce heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Due to the lower oxygen consumption, the efficiency of athletes could be significantly increased by fish oil compared to olive oil (Peoples et al. 200835).
Also, two grams of fish oil per day helped older women to significantly improve muscle gain within only three months (Rodacki et al. 201236).
3. Grass-Fed Ghee
For a good reason, ghee is called the “elixir of the gods” by the Hindus. Likewise, golden clarified butter is an outstanding energy source for athletes.
Through a spectrum of short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids, it provides lasting strength. Moreover, it is one of the best fats for cooking and even frying.
But what makes grass-fed ghee remarkable is the high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid.
CLA helps to replace body fat with muscle mass. And that even without the help of exercise (McCrorie et al. 201137).
Because only grass-fed animals can produce conjugated linoleic acid, species-appropriate feeding makes the difference. For example, products from grass-fed beef contain about six times more CLA than those from grain-fed cows (Dhiman et al. 199938).
The protective effect against cardiovascular diseases of CLA and anti-inflammatory effects due to clarifying the butter complement the outstanding fat-fuel package for athletes.
Similar to cocoa nibs, avocados have a high nutrient density. Additionally, they are the ideal foods with healthy fats for athletes, which can pimp a variety of meals.
While they provide B, C, and E vitamins and the electrolytes magnesium and potassium, avocados also help to absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods (Unlu et al. 200539).
Hence, avocados help you recover more quickly from demanding training and absorb up to five times as many nutrients from other natural foods. For example, they are the perfect addition to any salad.
On top of that, studies have shown that by eating avocados, satiety lasts way longer (Wien et al. 201340).
Foods With Healthy Fats for Muscle Gain
If cell membranes have a higher proportion of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, they can increase protein synthesis.
Therefore, marine omega-3 fatty acids are the most effective healthy fats for muscle gain.
The more proteins are within a cell membrane, the better nutrients can get into and out of a cell. And omega-3 fatty acids in cell membranes can accelerate this process (Hulbert et al. 199941).
The natural aging process entails the loss of muscle mass. This so-called sarcopenia drastically reduces the quality of life and can even cause death (Smith et al. 201142).
Accordingly, we begin to lose 2-3% of muscle functionality year after year in middle age. Nevertheless, the right omega-3 fatty acids can counteract this aging process (Smith et al. 201543).
Fish and Krill Oil
Although I avoid supplements as much as possible, they make sense when it comes to building muscle. Here in Vienna, Austria, I simply cannot get long-chain marine omega-3 fatty acids of the same quality, purity, or concentration.
But especially for older people, supplementation makes sense.
For example, older women were able to regain muscle mass and functionality in as little as three months with the help of two grams of fish oil per day (Rodacki et al. 201244).
In my opinion, krill oil is a superior choice, as it is less contaminated and can be absorbed even better by the body.
Accordingly, krill and fish oil improve protein synthesis throughout the body (Rodacki et al. 201244). Hence, not only that these foods with healthy fats help to gain muscle, but they also promote bone, hair, and skin renewal.
If you have access to wild-caught fish through a trusted source, you can also get healthy fats for muscle gain through whole foods.
On the contrary, farmed fish is not ideal because farmed fish generally has less omega-3 fatty acids and a higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids.
Since wild-caught seafood is often contaminated with mercury, here is a list of less harmful foods with omega-3 fatty acids (Mercola 201748):
5 Vegan Foods With Healthy Fats 🌿
There are limited options for vegetarians and especially vegans. With this in mind, it’s particularly hard to get a vegan variety of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats for cooking.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find the right vegan healthy fat for every purpose, as the following list will show.
In particular, flaxseed is an essential all-rounder for a vegetarian diet. And for a strictly vegan diet, they are probably indispensable.
Although the most potent omega-3 fatty acids come from the ocean, flaxseed offers a vegan alternative to fish and seafood.
Because in addition to DHA and EPA in fish, the mother of omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, in flaxseed also has a lot of health benefits to offer.
For example, it improves blood clotting, blood pressure, blood lipids, diabetes and inflammation risk (Faintuch et al. 200749; Mandaşescu et al. 200550; Kawakami et al. 201551; Bloedon et al. 200452).
Nevertheless, do not forget that flaxseed needs to be freshly ground to be absorbed by the body much more efficiently. Therefore, a coffee grinder can be a suitable tool.
Finally, flaxseed can also bring small amounts of DHA and EPA into a vegan diet, although these are generally reserved for animal products.
According to studies, the human body can partially convert alpha-linoleic acid to DHA and EPA (Zhao et al 200453).
Although the macadamia nut is not rich in omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, it contains the highest proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids of all nuts.
Therefore, it can be a vegan counterpart to the Western Pattern Diet and inflammation due to a minimal amount of omega-6 fatty acids.
Also, the low proportion of carbohydrates and proteins makes macadamia an ideal food for a low-carb healthy-fat (LCHF) or keto diet.
Accordingly, it consists mainly of healthy fats.
Since oleic acid is the predominant fat in macadamia nuts, as in olive oil, they also provide similar health benefits.
However, raw macadamia nuts have the advantage that the fatty acids can be damaged less easily (Mercola 201754).
Furthermore, macadamia nuts can be freshly chopped or ground to refine dishes. For example, you can use them to add extra crunchiness or creaminess.
3. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is probably the most prominent food with healthy monounsaturated fats. Ideally, it is used as a salad oil or to refine cold as well as warm dishes.
In addition to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids, it also provides a lot of antioxidants. Therefore it contributes to heart health and inhibits the aging process.
But what makes olive oil so interesting for vegetarians is its protective effect on bones. A study on age-related osteoporosis has shown that olive oil supports the formation of bone-building proteins (Fernández-Real et al. 201255).
Since this is a property that is mostly due to animal foods, olive oil is the vegan exception.
Furthermore, phenols in olive oil can stimulate osteoblasts. In short, these are bone-forming cells (García-Martínez et al. 201656).
4. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil, which is also predominantly monounsaturated fat, offers vegetarians an alternative to olive oil. Hence, it helps to achieve a high proportion of these fatty acids in the diet scientists are recommending (Singh et al. 201057).
And compared to olive oil, it can be used in dressings to significantly increase the absorption of nutrients from other foods (Unlu et al. 200558).
Furthermore, avocado oil can reduce the health disadvantages of our current omega-6-rich diet in the western world (James et al. 200059).
Moreover, it’s comparatively resistant to heat and pressure.
5. Coconut Oil
As described earlier, coconut oil is the best vegetable fat for cooking. However, it is also the only recommendable. Therefore, virgin coconut oil is a staple in any vegetarian or vegan diet.
While you can also use avocado and olive oil for cooking, they are not so well suited for high temperatures.
Additionally, the shorter carbon chains in coconut and MCT oil are more likely to help burn fat than most animal fats.
3 Foods With Heart-Healthy Fats ❤️
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
As with red wine, the benefits of olive oil for heart health come from bioactive compounds called polyphenols.
Therefore, it makes a difference whether you choose any olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. Because the latter usually has a much higher polyphenol content.
Furthermore, you should check the label of extra virgin olive oil for the following designations:
- Obtained directly or exclusively from mechanical processes
- Organically farmed
When these criteria are met, the oil has the potential to improve blood lipid levels and reduce oxidative stress.
Accordingly, a randomized study has found that this is the case. Extra virgin olive oil increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good cholesterol”) levels and prevents low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad cholesterol”) from oxidizing (Covas et al. 200660).
Furthermore, oleic acid, the essential fat in extra virgin olive oil, improves the function of blood vessels. Thus it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Pérez-Jiménez et al. 200261).
Flax seeds are a secret weapon for heart health. Accordingly, they have the potential to reduce the following threats to heart health:
- Blood pressure
- Blood clotting
- Triglycerides (Mandaşescu et al. 200562)
- Small-dense LDL cholesterol (Kawakami et al. 201563)
3. Grass-Fed Butter
Grass-fed cows, sheep, and goats produce dairy containing a hidden champion among healthy fats – conjugated linoleic acid.
Because conjugated linoleic acid not only helps you lose weight but also prevents blood clotting and arteriosclerosis, that’s a scientifically proven fact (Pariza et al. 200064).
3 Cancer-Preventing Foods ♋
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olives yield cancer-preventing properties.
For example, studies have found that olives and olive oil activate tumor suppressor genes. Consequently, they counteract programmed cell death (Notarnicola et al. 201165).
Another outstanding healthy food with monounsaturated fats is avocados. Similar to olives, avocados are rich in oleic acid and antioxidants.
Avocatin B, a fat in avocados, was found to eradicate leukemia in stem cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed (Lee et al. 201566).
Furthermore, there are carotenoids, especially in the pulp near the skin of avocados, which can help to fight cancer.
3. Fatty Fish
According to studies, the fatty acids DHA and EPA in fatty seafood can reduce tumor growth and the spread of metastases (Gonzalez et al 199367).
Furthermore, these omega-3 fatty acids can increase the chances of survival during chemotherapy or radiation without negatively affecting these treatments (Conklin et al. 200268).
Since marine organisms, in particular, contain high levels of these omega-3 fatty acids, they can generally contribute to cancer prevention.
With this in mind, it’s crucial to prefer wild-caught fish.
Farmed fish generally has a lower concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and a higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids.
The following high-fat fish have a comparatively low mercury content:
- Mackerel (North Atlantic)
However, to increase the potential purity of DHA and EPA, it makes sense to obtain them from fish oil. In this sense, krill oil is probably an even better option as a dietary supplement.
Because the body better absorbs fatty acids from krill oil and it is less contaminated than the average fish oil, it’s an excellent alternative.
4 Healthy Fat Foods for Diabetics 🍬
As clinical studies have shown, one of the many favorable properties of flaxseed is that it increases insulin sensitivity (Bloedon et al. 200469).
Therefore, flaxseed is also suitable for diabetics. Because type 2 diabetes is a disease driven by insulin resistance, that’s a scientifically proven fact.
Furthermore, flax seeds are one of the rare sources of vegan omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Grass-Fed Beef
The feeding makes the difference. That’s what a study that compares grain-fed with grass-fed beef suggests.
Moreover, the researchers found that the conjugated linoleic acid from grass-fed beef counteracts the development of type 2 diabetes and body fat accumulation in general (Daley et al. 201070).
Researchers at Loma Linda University have found that avocados help regulate blood sugar. They conclude that avocados are, therefore, suitable for people with severe insulin resistance, such as people with type 2 diabetes (Wien et al. 201371).
4. Fish Oil
Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in fish oil yields many benefits for type 2 diabetics.
Accordingly, fish oil promotes insulin sensitivity and helps reduce dangerous visceral fat, which can be particularly critical in and around the liver and pancreas.
3 Foods with Healthy Fats to Boost Your Immune System ✊
1. Coconut Oil
The favorable properties of coconut oil for the immune system are more than remarkable.
This food with healthy fat can fight viruses, bacteria, and other microbes.
Furthermore, the lauric acid in virgin coconut oil helps the immune system to effectively destroy viruses such as flu, HIV, measles, or herpes.
2. Olive Oil
Due to antioxidants such as polyphenols or oleuropein, olives, and olive oil reduce oxidative stress and extend life expectancy (Cañuelo et al. 201273).
Additionally, the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of olive oil boost your immune system naturally (Notarnicola et al. 201174).
3. Krill Oil
While the health benefits of fish oil are well known, krill oil is somewhat less prominent. It’s the potent cousin of fish oil. For example, it is purer and has a higher bioavailability than fish oil.
Through so-called resolvins, which your body derives from omega-3 fatty acids, krill oil can strengthen your immune system naturally (Sommer et al. 201175).
Thus, krill oil boosts a weak immune system to fight viruses and other infectious diseases.
Because they also increase protein synthesis, marine omega-3 fatty acids promote antibody- and white blood cell production (Alexander et al. 198676).
4 Good Fats Against Inflammation 🔥
Due to a large number of bioactive substances, olives and olive oil are anti-inflammatory. Moreover, these phenols and polyphenols have antioxidant effects and therefore reduce cancer risk (Notarnicola et al. 201177).
According to a clinical study, flaxseed can significantly reduce inflammation in overweight people. Since alpha-linoleic acid is responsible for these effects, flax seeds can have a substantial impact (Faintuch et al. 200778).
3. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E. Therefore, they offer anti-inflammatory effects since this antioxidant protects cells against free radicals.
Furthermore, they are rich in copper, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins. Nevertheless, don’t consume massive amounts and eat them raw (Mercola 201779).
Since the processing of the omega-6-rich fat includes heat and pressure, generally avoid consumption of sunflower oil.
4. Krill Oil
Marine omega-3 fatty acids can boost your immune system naturally through resolvins.
These molecules help fight infections and stop inflammation, where it is no longer necessary (Sommer et al. 201180).
Also, as the highest quality source of omega-3, krill oil helps fight viruses and other infectious diseases (Alexander et al. 198681).
Can You Eat Too Much Healthy Fats?
Studies show that healthy fats, such as those in a ketogenic diet, can lower the risk of heart disease, trigger sudden weight loss and reduce inflammation (Kosinski et al. 201782; Pinto et al. 201883).
But can you eat too much healthy fats?
Although it sounds controversial, one of the biggest mistakes people make when they switch to ketogenic diets is that they do not eat enough healthy fats.
Because a low-carb healthy-fat (LCHF) diet differs from other low-carbohydrate diets (such as the Atkins diet) by not being high in protein, it is more efficient.
The fact that proteins also stimulate the production of the storage hormone insulin was not proven for a long time and is unfortunately often ignored (Nuttall et al. 199184).
As a result, among the macronutrients, it is exclusively up to healthy fats to reduce insulin levels and modern diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, healthy fats help to avoid metabolic or thyroid problems associated with a low-calorie diet.
Accordingly, the macronutrient distribution in a ketogenic diet is as follows:
- Healthy fats: 70-80%
- Proteins: 20-25%
- Carbohydrates: 5-10%
However, the transition to a diet characterized by healthy fats can take 3-6 weeks. So if you have problems with too many healthy fats, increase the fat content of your diet slowly – step by step, day by day.
Nevertheless, people can quickly develop bile problems, especially if there is too much healthy fat from nuts.
Fats cannot be distinguished into healthy or unhealthy based on chemical structure. Nevertheless, the chemical composition is an indicator of appropriate use.
Therefore, I have summarized fats according to the known structure designation and deduced for what purpose they represent a healthy fat.
Accordingly, one and the same fat can have a healthy effect in one type of use, but an unhealthy impact on another.
Healthy fats and oils on the list are in order of the proportion of dominant fatty acid, which you can find in parentheses.
Healthy Saturated Fats
- MCT oil (100%, but not suitable for cooking)
- Virgin coconut oil (91%)
- Coconut milk (89%)
- Hay-milk butter (65%)
- Ghee (62%)
- Grazing cattle tallow (50%)
- Organic or grazing meat (42%)
For example, these are healthier fats for cooking, as they consist mainly of saturated fatty acids. Moreover, among the saturated fatty acids, there are also healthy fats for weight loss – the shorter the carbon chain, the better.
In short, the human body metabolizes coconut oil quicker than lard, and pure MCT oil even faster.
Healthy Monounsaturated Fats
- Extra virgin olive oil (79%)
- Olives (73%)
- Avocados (63%)
- Avocado oil (70%)
- Macadamia nuts (79%)
- Organic lard (45%)
- Pastured eggs (38%)
Since olive oil consists mainly of monounsaturated fatty acids, it safe for low heat cooking. Because “mono” means that it has only one double bond, it is relatively resistant to heat.
Nevertheless, vegetable oils should always be cold-pressed. Otherwise, they are prone to oxidation.
Moreover, fats from olives and avocados offer many additional health benefits. For example, they support saturation, protect the skin from UV radiation, or help prevent cancer.
Healthy Omega-3 Fats
- Cod liver
- Cod oil
- Fish oil
- Krill Oil
- Organic virgin flaxseed oil
Because they are sensitive to heat, pressure, and light, polyunsaturated omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids are the least suitable for cooking. Hence, they need to be handled carefully during transport and storage.
However, unsaturated marine omega-3 fats can provide the most outstanding health benefits. Accordingly, they help with weight loss and muscle building as well as against inflammation, aging process, and cancer.
Unhealthy Omega-6 Fats
- Safflower oil (80%)
- Grapeseed oil (73%)
- Sunflower oil (69%)
- Soybean oil (62%)
- Corn oil (59%)
- Cottonseed oil (52%)
- Sesame oil (43%)
- Rapeseed oil (28%)
- Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil
Plant-based must not be confused with healthy. Due to the vegan trend, countless campaigns try to mislead us into this trap.
The production of oils from non-oily plants is not only unnatural but also requires industrial chemics equipment.
Additionally, crops such as corn and canola are 90% GMO and, most of the time, drenched in glyphosate.
During industrial processing, vegetable oil is exposed to heat and pressure, which causes damage. And I guess we can agree that our brain cells should not consist of damaged fats.
Moreover, pay attention to partially-hydrogenated oils and fats. These are artificial trans fats. That means chemical enrichment of polyunsaturated vegetable oil with hydrogen atoms to make them shelf-stable.
With this in mind, we better know them as margarine or vegan butter. If you want these fatty acid mutants in your organs for years, fall for the plant-based myth. In short, these are the most unhealthy fats available.
In conclusion, research suggests that the ideal diet has a 1:6:1 ratio. That means one part saturated, six parts monounsaturated, and one part polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Furthermore, in an ideal world, we would have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 1:1 – the reality is a dangerous average of 1:17, in some regions even 1:30 (Singh et al. 201084).
Healthy Fats FAQ ❓
What foods are high in healthy fats?
Avocados 🥑, olives, and flaxseed contain extremely healthy fats. Additionally, fatty fish 🐟 such as salmon or mackerel are great foods with healthy fats.
How can I get healthy fat in my diet?
Especially coconut oil 🥥, virgin olive oil, or fish oil 🐟 are incredibly healthy fats to complement a diet.
What foods are fatty?
You can find foods with healthy fats in the form of oil (i.e., coconut oil 🥥), whole foods (i.e., avocados 🥑), solid fat (i.e., grass-fed butter), or supplements (i.e., fish oil 🐟)
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Stephan is a writer and a true man of science, holding multiple diplomas and master's degrees in different research areas. His greatest passion is closing the gap between the conventional perception of health and the latest scientific evidence – always following the data.