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Top 10 High-Fat Foods for a Healthy Heart, Brain and More

Top 10 High-Fat Foods for a Healthy Heart, Brain and More

FAT

It seems like a bad word.

Like it makes you fat.

Fat is one of the 3 macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein, and it is essential for us to live and thrive in a healthy body.

It is involved in cell signaling. It helps to maintain a healthy immune system. It help us absorb certain vitamins. It helps us produce recovery hormones (including sex hormones). And, when we consume a balance of fats -saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated (omega 3 and omega 6)-, our blood lipid profile improves.

So we shouldn’t be afraid of fats! It is true that, while proteins and carbs provide 4 kcals per g, fat provides 9, so it is the most energy dense of the macronutrients. But that doesn’t mean they «make you fat». A calorie surplus does, not a single macronutrient. A healthy diet needs to make room for fats!

However, not all fats all created equal. This is my top 10 of best sources to eat healthy fats in your diet.

First, I will show you the top 10 with some infographics I’ve made so you have the «quick version» fact sheet you can look at for reference. After that, I will explain the roles of all the components mentioned so you can understand better why they are important and healthy.

Top 10 High-Fat Foods

1. Salmon

2. Avocado

3. Eggs

4. Walnuts

*Other nuts (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) are also great fat sources full of micronutrients. I just had to choose one as an example.

5. Chia seeds

* Same as with nuts, other seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) are also quite amazing. I usually buy a bag of mixed seeds.

6. Peanut butter

* I guess by now it goes without saying, but other nut butters are good options too!

7. Dark chocolate

*It must have more than 70% cocoa in order to be considered dark chocolate.

8. Extra virgin olive oil

*The fact that it reduces inflammation has the consequence that it protects against rheumatoid arthritis.

9. Goat cheese

*Other types of cheese are great too. I have chosen this one because it is one of the most high-fat. Yogurt and milk are good fat sources as well, but usually their fat content is lower even if you buy the full fat versions. Butter, unlike all the other dairy sources, should be consumed only in moderation due to its palmitic acid content, which has been associated with negative changes in blood lipids when butter becomes the prevalent cooking fat.

10. Trout

*Other high-fat fishes include mackerel, sardines and anchovies.

Fatty acids

  • Saturated Fats: have often been grouped with trans fats in research. Many of the bad effects we associate to saturated fats are actually only linked to trans fats. For example, the saturated fats in dairy products seem to in fact have good effects!
    • Found in: goat cheese.

 

  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: can lower total and LDL cholesterol while increasing the HDL cholesterol.
    • Found in: avocado, eggs, peanut butter, dark chocolate, olive oil.
    • Omega-3:
      • Provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
      • Bind to receptors in cells that regulate genetic function.
      • Help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
      • Found in: salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, trout.
        • DHA: essential for brain health.
          • Found in: salmon, walnuts, trout.
    • Oleic acid: improves blood lipid profile. May alter the expression of certain genes associated with aggressive forms of breast cancer.
      • Found in: avocado, olive oil.

(We’re not going to go into detail, but we also have Omega-6 and Omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids, and then polyunsaturated fatty acids).

Vitamins in High-Fat Foods

  • Folate: growth and development of cells.
    • Found in: avocado.
  • Niacin: important for the development and function of the cells.
    • Found in: salmon, peanut butter, trout.
  • Riboflavin: important for the growth, development, and function of cells.
    • Found in: eggs, goat cheese.
  • Thiamin: again, growth, development, and function of cells.
    • Found in: trout.
  • Vitamin A: eye health. Also stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, takes part in remodeling bone, helps maintain healthy endothelial cells (those lining the body’s interior surfaces), and regulates cell growth and division such as needed for reproduction.
    • Found in: goat cheese.
  • Vitamin B6: involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism.
    • Found in: salmon, walnuts, peanut butter.
  • Vitamin B12: required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.
    • Found in: salmon, eggs, trout.
  • Vitamin D: bone health + protects against macular degeneration (eye health!).
    • Found in: salmon, eggs.
  • Vitamin E: antioxidant.
    • Found in: peanut butter, olive oil.
  • Vitamin K: important for helping your blood to clot.
    • Found in: avocado, olive oil.

Minerals in High-Fat Foods

  • Calcium: bone health + muscle contraction.
    • Found in: salmon, chia seeds, goat cheese.
  • Copper: involved in energy production, iron metabolism, neuropeptide activation, connective tissue synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis.
    • Found in: walnuts, peanut butter, dark chocolate, goat cheese.
  • Iron: used to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles.
    • Found in: dark chocolate.
  • Magnesium: protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
    • Found in: walnuts, peanut butter, dark chocolate.
  • Manganese: involved in metabolism, bone formation and immune response. Plays a role in blood clotting and hemostasis (the process by which the body seals a ruptured blood vessel and prevents further loss of blood). Necessary for normal brain and nerve function.
    • Found in: walnuts, chia seeds, peanut butter, dark chocolate, trout.
  • Phosphorus: structural component of cell membranes and nucleic acids but is also involved in several biological processes, including bone mineralization, energy production, cell signaling, and regulation of acid-base homeostasis.
    • Found in: salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, peanut butter, dark chocolate, goat cheese, trout.
  • Potassium: helps to regulate blood pressure.
    • Found in: avocado, dark chocolate.
  • Selenium: plays critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection.
    • Found in: salmon, eggs.
  • Zinc: immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division.
    • Found in: walnuts, chia seeds, dark chocolate.

Other Awesome Stuff in High-Fat Foods

  • Fiber: important for a healthy bowel.
    • Found in: avocado, chia seeds.
  • Flavanols: help to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow, thereby lowering blood pressure.
    • Found in: dark chocolate.
  • HDL cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as the “good” cholesterol. It helps remove other harmful forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. Cholesterol has bad press, but it is a component of cell membranes, a precursor to fat soluble vitamins and a precursor to steroid hormones.
    • All the foods listed help increase this «good» cholesterol and, in turn, decrease the LDL or «bad» cholesterol.
  • Oleocanthal: pain relief effects.
    • Found in: olive oil.
  • Plant sterols: can help to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
    • Found in: avocado.
  • Protein: fulfills loads of key functions within the body: energetic, structural (tissues), transport (red blood cells), hormonal, enzymatic, immune (antibodies), keeping acid-base balance and fluid balance.
    • Found in: salmon, eggs, peanut butter, goat cheese, trout.

So, just to sum up: fat isn’t the enemy. High-fat foods are our allies towards our goal of building a healthy and balanced diet. Enjoy all these foods, and if you ever feel bad about eating them, bring to your mind all their benefits, how they are helping your body in so many amazing ways.

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