Healthy and Fat? 5 High-Fat Foods You Should Not Avoid

Monday, October 23, 2006 - 3:09pm

By Allison Stevens, MS, RD

Recently, fat has gotten a bad rap. But the fact is, everyone needs a little fat in their diet. Not just any fat, though—the type of fat is important because it not only affects your overall health, it also influences your cholesterol levels and heart health. So, which fats should you be eating? Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.

The major source of these fats is oils; however, they are also found in other foods. Here’s a list of foods that have high quantities of these healthful fats.

1.   Oils good for cooking and baking

When evaluating your fat intake, first examine the fats you regularly use for cooking and baking. Butter, shortening, and lard are high in saturated fats (a not-so-healthy fat). Margarines can be high in trans fats (a bad-for-you fat). An easy way to improve the quality of your fat intake is to switch to a canola or vegetable oil when baking; use olive oil for stove-top cooking. These oils are both high in healthful mono- and poly- unsaturated fats.

Aside from being great for sautéing and baking, oils can also be a healthy accompaniment to bread. Serve plain or add your favorite chopped fresh herb to olive oil for an elegant alternative to butter.

Top 3 Diet Plans (based on Diet Channel visitor activity):

Mediterranean Diet - "Ideal for people who like to cook and enjoy great cuisine." Learn More...

Jillian Michaels - "Jillian guides you through the diet and exercise changes you know you need to make." Learn More...

South Beach Diet - "This hugely popular diet promises diligent followers an initial weight loss of 8-13 pounds in the first two weeks." Learn More...

2.   Avocado: high fat but nutritious

Also known as an “alligator pear,” due to its shape and skin texture, this high-fat nutritious food is the perfect addition to salads, salsas, soups and more. Not only does it add great creamy flavor, it can also boost nutrition. Many vegetables are loaded with beneficial carotenoids that are great for your health and can aid in disease prevention. Adding avocado to a vegetable dish will enhance your body’s ability to absorb these potent carotenoids. Studies have revealed that carotenoids are fat soluble—which means they need a high-fat food, such as an avocado, to be fully absorbed by your body.

Use ripe avocado as a spread on your veggie-filled sandwiches. It can be spread alone or mixed with some plain yogurt and fresh cilantro for a Spanish inspired kick.

3.   Nuts are healthy

Once given a bad rap due to their high fat content, nuts are now considered as a health food—ironically because of their fats (the good, heart-healthy kind). They also contain an array of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E and zinc, and are a good source of fiber.

Nuts are so versatile; they can be used at any meal. They add a great crunch to dishes. Try substituting them for breadcrumbs when coating chicken or fish before cooking. Simply grind some nuts; dip chicken or fish in a beaten egg; coat the meat with the nuts; then, place in a 350-degree oven until cooked through.

4.   Fish fat is essential

Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are termed “essential” because the human body cannot make them on its own. The health benefits of omega-3s run the gamut; they have been said to improve everything from heart health to mental health problems.

Poaching is a quick and easy way to prepare fish. Simply fill a small sauce pan with three inches of water (or white wine), bring to an almost boil and poach fish for eight to ten minutes or until it flakes easily.

5.   Olives - the perfect snack

Olives are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, but don’t let these high-fat little bites fool you. Unlike many other high-fat foods, olives can also be a low-calorie snack all on their own. One serving of 20 small black olives is a great snack with less than 100 calories and will contain a good amount of iron, fiber, vitamin E, and copper.

Rather than munching on olives plain, try making a simple tapenade by combining fresh olives with some garlic and oil in a blender or food processor. This is a great dip for bread, and also works great as a pasta topper.

For further information on eating fats see the following article from TheDietChannel: Fat Facts: Fat Confusion Cleared Up.