Ever since fat was demonized, people started eating more sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods instead.
As a result, the entire world has become fatter and sicker. However, times are changing. Studies now show that fat, including saturated fat, isn’t the devil it was made out to be (1, 2). All sorts of healthy foods that happen to contain fat have now returned to the “superfood” scene.
Here are 10 high-fat foods that are actually incredibly healthy and nutritious.
The avocado is different from most other fruits. Whereas most fruits primarily contain carbs, avocados are loaded with fats. In fact, avocados are about 77% fat by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods (3).
Avocados are among the best sources of potassium in the diet, even containing 40% more potassium than bananas, a typical high-potassium food.
They’re also a great source of fiber, and studies have shown that they can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (the “good”) cholesterol (6, 7, 8). Even though they are high in fat and calories, one study shows that people who eat avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don’t (9).
Bottom Line: Avocados are a fruit, with fat at 77% of calories. They are an excellent source of potassium and fiber, and have been shown to have major benefits for cardiovascular health.
Cheese is incredibly nutritious. This makes sense, given that an entire cup of milk is used to produce a single thick slice of cheese.
It is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium, and contains all sorts of other nutrients (10). It is also very rich in protein, with a single thick slice of cheese containing 6.7 grams of protein, the same as a glass of milk.
Cheese, like other high-fat dairy products, also contains powerful fatty acids that have been linked to all sorts of benefits, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (11).
Bottom Line: Cheese is incredibly nutritious, and a single slice contains a similar amount of nutrients as a glass of milk. It is a great source of vitamins, minerals, quality proteins, and healthy fats.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is one of those rare health foods that actually taste incredible.
It is very high in fat, with fat at around 65% of calories. Dark chocolate is 11% fiber and contains over 50% of the RDA for iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese (12).
Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate five or more times per week are less than half as likely to die from heart disease, compared to people who don’t eat dark chocolate (16, 17). There are also some studies showing that dark chocolate can improve brain function, and protect your skin from damage when exposed to the sun (18, 19).
Just make sure to choose quality dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate is high in fat, but loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. It is very effective at improving cardiovascular health.
4. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs used to be considered unhealthy because the yolks are high in cholesterol and fat.
In fact, a single egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is 71% of the recommended daily intake. Plus, 62% of the calories in whole eggs are from fat (20). However, new studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs doesn’t affect the cholesterol in the blood, at least not in the majority of people (21).
What we’re left with is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Whole eggs are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals. They contain a little bit of almost every single nutrient we need. They even contain powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes, and lots of choline, a brain nutrient that 90% of people don’t get enough of (22, 23).
Eggs are also a weight-loss-friendly food. They are very fulfilling and high in protein, the most important nutrient for weight loss (24). Despite being high in fat, people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs end up eating fewer calories and losing weight (25, 26).
The best eggs are omega-3-enriched or pastured. Just don’t throw away the yolk; that’s where almost all the nutrients are found.
Bottom Line: Whole eggs are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Despite being high in fat and cholesterol, they are incredibly nutritious and healthy.
5. Fatty Fish
One of the few animal products that most people agree is healthy, is fatty fish. This includes fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. These fish are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality proteins, and all sorts of important nutrients (27).
Bottom Line: Fatty fish like salmon is loaded with important nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fatty fish is linked to improved health, and reduced risk of all sorts of diseases.
Nuts are incredibly healthy. They are high in healthy fats and fiber, and are a good plant-based source of protein.
Nuts are also high in vitamin E, as well as magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t get enough of (32).
Healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and numerous others.
Bottom Line: Nuts are loaded with healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, and magnesium, and are among the best sources of plant-based protein. Studies show that nuts have many health benefits.
7. Butter From Grass-Fed Cows
Butter is almost pure fat, over half of which is saturated.
It was demonized in the past, but has now been making a comeback as a health food. Butter, especially from grass-fed cows, contains important nutrients like vitamins A and K2. It also contains butyrate and CLA, bioactive fatty acids that have been linked to numerous health benefits (36, 37).
In countries where cows are grass-fed, consumption of high-fat dairy products like butter is actually linked with reduced risk of heart disease (38, 39). A review study published in 2012 also found that consumption of high-fat (but not low-fat) dairy was linked to reduced risk of obesity (40).
Bottom Line: Butter is very high in saturated fat. Even so, studies show that high-fat dairy products are linked to reduced risk of obesity, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in countries where cows are grass-fed.
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another fatty food that almost everyone agrees is healthy is extra virgin olive oil. This fat is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits (41, 42).
Extra virgin olive oil contains vitamins E and K, and is loaded with powerful antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants can fight inflammation and help protect the LDL particles in the blood from becoming oxidized (43, 44).
It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol markers, and have all sorts of benefits related to heart-disease risk (45). Out of all the healthy fats and oils in the diet, extra virgin olive oil is the king.
Bottom Line: Extra virgin olive oil has many powerful health benefits, and is incredibly effective at improving cardiovascular health.
9. Coconuts And Coconut Oil
Coconuts and coconut oil are the richest sources of saturated fat on the planet. In fact, about 90% of the fatty acids in them are saturated. Even so, populations that consume large amounts of coconut do not have high levels of heart disease, and are in excellent health (46, 47).
Coconut fats are actually different from most other fats, and consist largely of medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are metabolized differently, going straight to the liver where they may be turned into ketone bodies (48).
Bottom Line: Coconuts are very high in medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized differently from other fats. They can reduce appetite, increase fat burning, and provide numerous health benefits.
10. Full-Fat Yogurt
Real, full-fat yogurt is incredibly healthy.
It has all the same important nutrients as other high-fat dairy products. But it’s also loaded with healthy, probiotic bacteria that can have powerful effects on your health.
Just make sure to choose real, full-fat yogurt and read the label. Unfortunately, many of the yogurts found on store shelves are low in fat, but loaded with added sugar instead. It is best to avoid those like the plague.