Healthy Fats That Are Good for You (14 Fatty Foods to Eat)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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Despite the negative connotations that are associated with fat, not all fats are out to harm you. In fact, some are essential to your body and bring many health benefits.

These fats are known as healthy fats and could be found in a number of natural whole foods that your diet should include.

As a certified personal trainer, to help you choose some healthier options, I’ve joined forces with a nutritionist and created this research-based guide about the top sources of healthy fats.

Quick Summary

  • To improve your overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease, include foods rich in healthy fats like avocados, fatty fish, and nuts in your diet.
  • Healthy fats, particularly unsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are essential for brain health, reducing bad cholesterol, and preventing chronic diseases.
  • A study on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website found that consuming 50g daily of different dietary fats like extra virgin coconut oil, butter, or extra virgin olive oil for four weeks led to varying effects on blood lipid profiles, weight, and metabolic markers in healthy individuals.
  • Personally, I've found incorporating these healthy fat sources into my meals not only enhances the flavor but also significantly boosts my energy and overall well-being.

What Are Examples Of Healthy Fats?

Sources of omega 3 and a salmon fish

Unsaturated fats are considered to be good fats and include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which provide various health benefits.

These types of dietary fat lower the risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol (bad fats), and cardiovascular disease.

Based on research:

“A number of studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website alluded that omega fatty acids could help protect against neurodegeneration and the chances of developing cognitive impairment [1].“

- Emma Derbyshire, Nutritionist

It makes omega 3s a key player in maintaining your heart and brain health.

However, you’ll want to look at other compounds too, such as omega 6s and everything else we’ve mentioned in the list below.

14 Healthy Fat Rich Foods

1. Avocado

A slice of avocado fruit

From my personal experience, avocado tops the list as a favorite healthy fat source. It's not just packed with 21 grams of unsaturated fats, but also loaded with essential nutrients that have become a key part of my daily diet.

Not only do avocados contain a whopping 21 grams of unsaturated fats, but they're also abundant in a number of nutrients and minerals.

These include Vitamins B-6, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, and riboflavin, making avocado the essential ingredient of a healthy diet.

2. Fatty Fish

A fatty fish on a kitchen table

Fatty fish choices include sardine, tuna, trout, salmon, and herring.

These oily fish are abundant in omega 3 fatty acids and protein, which is why they’re commonly found in the diets of bodybuilders and professional athletes.

For individuals who can’t stand the smell of fish, a fish oil supplement like cod liver oil can be used as a substitute.

That way, you can still get all the essential benefits without any unpleasant odor.

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A bowl full of olive oil

Whether used as a salad dressing or fried alongside some fish, the extra virgin olive oil is a versatile option filled with good fats.

Olive oil is rich in Vitamin E and K and contains an abundance of antioxidants that will protect your body from free radicals and other harmful toxins.

Other notable benefits of olive oil include combating inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and improving cholesterol levels.

4. Coconut Oil and Coconuts

Coconuts behind coconut oils

A controversial healthy food, coconuts and coconut oil are rich in saturated fats, considered ‘bad fats.’

However, according to another study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, they don’t come with any of the negative health factors associated with saturated fats, making them a healthy fat option [2].

This may be because coconut oils are different from most other saturated fats and are composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which go directly to the liver to be broken down into ketone bodies.

As a result, the saturated fat in coconut skips over normal metabolic processes and doesn’t contribute to LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Coconuts and their oily counterparts provide a number of benefits such as:

  • Suppressing hunger and appetite
  • Raising good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Encouraging fat burning
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Protecting your skin, teeth, and hair

Boosting brain functions and mitigating Alzheimer’s

Related: Does Coconut Oil Increase Testosterone?

5. Chia Seeds

Overflowing chia seeds on a bowl

Chia seeds are rich in omega 3s with 9 grams of fat, making them high-fat plant food.

They’re also highly nutritious for the amount of calories they provide, being loaded with fiber and minerals such as iron, calcium, and manganese.

Besides being a great vegan-friendly food option, they also provide other health benefits like lowering blood pressure and combating inflammation.

Additionally, one interesting thing to note about chia seeds is that they’re capable of absorbing up to 12x their weight in water.

For individuals who are strict about their daily calorie intake, eating chia seeds alongside a glass of water can help them feel full for longer periods.

Related: What Seeds Are Good for Weight Loss?

6. Dark Chocolate

A close up picture of a dark chocolate

Chocolate lovers can rejoice at the fact that their favorite food is actually good for them as long as it is dark chocolate and eaten in moderate amounts.

Also, the higher the cocoa percentage, the better it is for your body.

You’ll want to aim for chocolate with at least 70% or more cocoa since it is:

  • Very rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese
  • Loaded with powerful antioxidants (more than any other food)
  • Raising HDL and lowering LDL cholesterol levels
  • Improving blood flow and reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Suppressing appetite and aiding with weight loss

7. Flaxseed

Close up shot of Flaxseed in a bowl

Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are yet another plant-based healthy fat source you should include in your diet.

With 8 grams of fat, flaxseeds are calorie-efficient fat foods for those looking to cut back.

Additionally, flaxseeds are great for promoting digestion and keeping you sated for longer periods of time, as they contain both insoluble and soluble fiber types.

These fibers also aid with regular bowel movements and ensure bodily waste comes out more smoothly.

8. Anchovies

Dried anchovies fish in a wooden bowl

Besides getting your omega 3s from fatty fish, anchovies are another seafood option full of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

These small fish are rich in iron, Vitamin A, calcium, and selenium that can be a wonderful addition to pizzas and salads.

They’re also rich in protein and triglycerides, contributing to muscle repair and cardiovascular health.

Additionally, it's a lot safer to eat fish like anchovies compared to larger variants of seafood.

As most fish sources are farm-raised instead of wild, they are exposed to greater levels of pesticides, antibiotics, and various other toxins.

Anchovies, however, are abundant in the wild and considered one of the most sustainable species of fish due to their smaller size.

So while they may smell strange, they’re also some of the best additions you can make to your diet - offering a plethora of health and environmental benefits.

9. Nuts

Different walnuts

High in fiber, calories, and good fat, nuts are another plant-based source of protein that’s a perfect addition to any vegan diet.

Walnuts  - Offer 21 grams of fat and provide both omega 3 and omega 6 acids.

They’re also rich in manganese and copper, two nutrients that play vital roles in promoting cardiovascular health and blood pressure levels.

Almonds - are rich in Vitamin E, protein, and magnesium, with 15 grams of fat.

They’re also one of the best nuts to eat to lose weight and for reducing hunger.

Hazelnuts provide 15 grams of protein alongside 17 grams of fat. They’re also one of the few nuts to contain both polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.

Macadamia nuts boast 23 grams in fat intake and are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids yet low in carbs and sugar. They also offer high amounts of nutrients and vitamins like manganese, thiamine, copper, Vitamin B6, and magnesium.

Regardless of what nut you prefer, they’re all great choices that lower blood pressure, increase cognitive functions, and prevent diabetes, all while being a healthy snack.

10. Eggs

Eggs on a brown rough cloth

With one egg providing 13 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, eggs are an inexpensive healthy fat source loaded with omega 3s and other nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, B6, B12, Vitamin D, as well as minerals like phosphate, selenium, copper, iron, and zinc.

Additionally, egg whites and yolks are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet, as they offer a little bit of everything you need.

They are good for cholesterol levels, repairing cell membranes, and preventing eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.

11. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds on white background

Hemp seeds offer 15 grams of fat alongside 9 grams of protein.

These small, stout seeds are considered a complete source of protein, as they offer all nine essential amino acids required for muscle repair and growth.

They’re also especially rich in an amino acid known as arginine, a major contributor to heart health.

As a result, hemp seeds are popular amongst athletes and a frequent topping that’s often found in protein shakes.

12. Tofu

Tofu on a small plate

Like hemp seeds, tofu also contains all nine essential amino acids and is a great food source when it comes to feeding your muscles - boasting 8 grams of protein per 100 grams.

They’re also rich in vitamins and nutrients like manganese, calcium, and selenium, all while contributing a minimum amount to your daily calories.

Some notable benefits of tofu include:

  • Reduced risk of breast, prostate, and digestive cancers
  • Antinutrients, which prevent your body from absorbing an excessive amount of nutrients
  • Improves skin elasticity and youthfulness
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Eases menopause and diabetic symptoms

13. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds on a wooden spoon

With 13 grams of fat, pumpkin seeds are full of polyunsaturated fats and omega 6s.

Besides being rich in antioxidants, they also contain many vitamins and nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron potassium, folate, and Vitamin B2.

Benefits include reduced high blood pressure and increased ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which are key players in cardiovascular health.

They’re also linked to a reduced risk of prostate and bladder disease, which are especially beneficial for individuals with urinary issues.

14. Whole Milk Dairy

A glass of whole milk dairy splash

Last on our list is an ever-popular beverage filled with calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, B, and D.

Milk is a healthy saturated fat option that also, not surprisingly, comes with other health benefits, such as a lower risk of obesity, insulin resistance, and it also plays a key role in preventing weight gain.

There has also been significant research that shows milk containing saturated fat has been associated with greatly lower rates of diabetes - both the type 1 and type 2 variants [3].

Related Articles:


How Much Healthy Fat Should You Eat In a Day?

For adults, the daily intake of healthy fats should be around 44 to 77 grams per day or 20% to 35% of their total calories intake.

It is also recommended to eat many different types of fats (poly, monounsaturated, and saturated fat) to create a balance and get all the types of essential fats in your diet.

How Do Healthy Fats Contribute to Hormone Regulation?

Healthy fats play a crucial role in hormone production and regulation, particularly hormones related to stress and reproductive health. Consuming adequate amounts of these fats supports overall hormonal balance, impacting mood, growth, and metabolism.

What Are the Best Sources of Healthy Fats for Plant-Based Diets?

For those on plant-based diets, avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are excellent sources of healthy fats. These foods not only provide essential fatty acids but also contribute to the overall nutrient density of the diet.

What Are Some Tips for Cooking with Healthy Fats?

When cooking with healthy fats, it's important to choose the right oil for the cooking method; for example, olive oil is great for low-heat cooking, while avocado oil is better for high-heat applications. Also, storing oils in a cool, dark place helps preserve their nutritional quality.

How Can Healthy Fats Be Incorporated into Children's Diets?

Healthy fats can be included in children's diets through foods like nut butter, avocado slices, and yogurt, which are not only nutritious but also kid-friendly. These fats are essential for children's brain development and overall growth.

How Do Seasonal Variations Affect Fat-Rich Foods?

The nutritional content and availability of fat-rich foods like nuts and avocados can change with the seasons, affecting their quality and price. To adapt, one can switch between different types of healthy fats throughout the year, depending on their availability and freshness.


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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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