8 High Fat Foods For a Healthy Balance

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 04/07/2024

Throughout the history of weight loss, fat has been made somewhat of a villain. But the truth is that certain high-fat foods can be part of a healthy diet.

Your body needs a variety of nutrients from a range of foods to function — including certain foods high in healthy fats that provide benefits for heart health, weight management and more. And there’s a good chance you’re already eating some of these fatty foods.

Keep reading to discover the best healthy fats for weight loss and why these foods high in fat are good for you.

What are healthy fats, and how do they compare to unhealthy fats?

There are four types of fats:

  • Monounsaturated fats

  • Polyunsaturated fats

  • Saturated fats

  • Trans fats

Generally, healthy fats stay liquid at room temperature, while saturated fats — like butter and lard — solidify more easily. Meanwhile, trans fats are chemically modified through hydrogenation and often found in processed or fried foods.

Another big difference is the effects certain unsaturated fats have on the body compared to saturated fats.

Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats are often called good fats or healthy fats compared to saturated or trans fats.

This isn’t to say all saturated fats are bad — some are even considered healthy-fat foods, which we’ll go over below. But in general, saturated fat intake should be less than seven percent of your total calorie intake, according to the American Heart Association.

Of course, moderation is crucial for any balanced eating plan. Still, by adding the foods from this healthy fats list, you’ll be reaping many nutritional benefits.

Some of the best high-fat foods include:

  • Avocados

  • Dark chocolate

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Olive oil

  • Dairy products

These high-fat foods are often considered good fats for weight loss and several other health benefits, thanks to the essential nutrients each contains.

1. Avocados

Avocados are popular for a reason — and not just because of avocado toast.

A medium avocado contains about 22 grams of fat and is particularly high in monounsaturated fats.

According to a small study, the heart-healthy fats in avocados might lower levels of LDL cholesterol (that’s low-density lipoprotein), a type of cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease (heart disease).

Two larger studies also found that consuming at least two avocados a week reduced the risk of heart disease due to the fatty acids.

2. Dark Chocolate

Yes, chocolate can absolutely be part of a balanced diet — especially if it’s dark chocolate.

Nutritious and delicious, dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa contains not only good fats but also plenty of notable nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, iron and magnesium.

Eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels by lowering LDL without affecting HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels — that’s the good kind of cholesterol.

3. Eggs

An egg-cellent source of protein, whole eggs also deliver healthy fats, making them a great breakfast choice — or even a high-fat snack for weight loss if you like hard-boiled eggs.

While the yolks of eggs were once considered unhealthy due to high cholesterol content, studies have found that whole eggs don’t negatively affect blood cholesterol.

Eggs are also high in vitamin D as well as protein, making them a prime breakfast choice to keep you full throughout the day.

Need another reason to start eating eggs — maybe with avocado — as part of your breakfast? A high-fat breakfast may help control cravings later in the day, as one small study suggests.

4. Fish

Fatty fish can also be a healthy addition to any meal plan. Regarded as one of the most nutritious animal protein sources, oily fish in particular provides numerous healthy fats, among other nutrients.

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and trout are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, along with protein, vitamins and minerals.

Regularly consuming omega-3 fatty acids may help improve heart health and blood sugar levels. Two servings of fatty fish each week are recommended if you want to make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s — or you try a fish oil supplement.

5. Nuts

Not only are nuts a good source of plant protein, but they’re also high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and healthy fats that prevent cardiovascular events and type 2 diabetes.

Those who eat nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews tend to have a lower rate of obesity and a lower risk of heart disease.

And good news for those who love peanut butter — nut butters have the benefits of nuts in spreadable form. You can add your favorite nut butter to flavor muffins or granola, or enjoy a spoonful with dark chocolate chips.

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6. Seeds

A couple of seeds in particular — chia seeds and flaxseed — are two more foods high in fat.

Small but mighty chia seeds pack a nutritious punch. Two tablespoons contain seven grams of polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids, specifically) along with 11 grams of fiber, protein and antioxidants.

Similarly, flaxseed provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber simultaneously, with over 42 grams of fat and 27 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams.

Besides being two more examples of healthy fats to eat, these seeds are pretty versatile, meaning they can be sprinkled onto oatmeal or seamlessly added to smoothies.

7. Olive Oil

When you’re cooking up your next meal, reach for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). A staple of the Mediterranean diet, EVOO is a fatty food rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

EVOO, along with other components of the Mediterranean diet, has several health benefits, including heart health support, blood sugar management and weight management.

8. Dairy Products

As kids, we were told to drink milk so we could grow big and strong. That might still apply, especially when it comes to the nutritional benefits of certain dairy products.

Full-fat yogurt, for example, is fortified with probiotics that can be good for digestive health. Compared to its low-fat or fat-free versions, full-fat yogurt doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on blood pressure or lipids (cholesterol or fat).

And despite its reputation, cheese is another healthy-fat food when eaten in moderation.

A great source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium and many other nutrients, cheese is also rich in protein.

Like other high-fat dairy products, cheese doesn’t appear to increase heart disease risk compared to reduced-fat dairy.

The benefits of healthy fats for weight loss are numerous. They provide various nutrients, such as antioxidants, fatty acids, fiber, magnesium and even protein — all of which are necessary for your body to function properly.

However, these health benefits are only reaped with certain high-fat foods, as not all fats are created equal.

While monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats tend to be healthier, there are exceptions.

Some vegetable oils, like palm oil and canola oil, that are lower in saturated fats are alright to use. But they contain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that may contribute to excess weight or obesity.

On the other hand, coconut oil or hydrogenated oils should be limited due to their higher saturated fat content.

Although foods high in fat are important, they’re only one part of a balanced nutrition plan. The other two essential nutrients, along with healthy-fat foods, are carbohydrates and protein.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, a high-protein diet might be recommended to improve your health.

This doesn’t mean you should cut out fatty foods completely, though, as a high-fat/high-protein meal plan is vital for overall health.

When trying to improve your health and lose weight, you might think cutting out dietary fat is the first step. But some high-fat foods can actually help with weight loss.

Here’s what to remember:

  • One crucial component of weight loss is a balanced eating plan that prioritizes healthy fats over the saturated and trans fats often found in certain oils and processed foods.

  • Healthy fats that can be part of a balanced nutritious diet include avocado, dark chocolate, whole eggs, seeds, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish and certain dairy products.

  • These healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats provide benefits for heart health, brain function, weight loss and more — especially when combined with high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates.

Eating a balanced diet with healthy fats is just one component of a comprehensive weight loss plan. A healthcare provider may recommend additional tools, like weight loss medication, to help you in your journey.

If you’re curious about medication for weight loss or other weight loss treatments online, we can help.

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