January 10, 2023

The secret is knowing which high-fat foods you should eat.

Some popular high-fat diets may be linked with an increased risk of obesity, dementia, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, suggests research. But, that doesn’t mean all high-fat foods are unhealthy. In fact, research shows eating certain high-fat foods may even save your life.

 

Is Eating a High-fat Diet Healthy?

Probably not, according to science. Plus, eating too much fat can leave you:

  • feeling sluggish
  • cause digestive discomfort
  • increase the risk of disease
  • …and, desperately hungry!

 

Should You Avoid High-fat Foods?

Not all high-fat foods are bad for you. Avoiding high-fat foods has been a major flaw of recent dietary recommendations: many people cut back on saturated fat but then filled up the gap in their diets with processed carbohydrates (sugar). This switch to more sugary, processed foods is a problem: eating ultra-processed foods has been linked to chronic disease risk by Canadian researchers.

 

Plus, avoiding fatty foods altogether could lead to nutritional deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamins A, E, K).  

  

Why are Some High-fat Foods Unhealthy?

The type of fat a food contains matters. Trans fats are trouble! Created in the production of many processed and fried foods, trans fats are best avoided. Studies show trans fats are associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality and coronary heart disease.

As for animal products, they contain saturated fats. Saturated fats are also linked to higher risks of mortality, heart disease, and cancer by science.

  

8 High-fat Foods You Should Eat Less Often

  • Animal Products
  • French Fries
  • Fried Fish
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Packaged Baked Goods
  • Processed Foods
  • Processed Meats 

 

The Best High-fat Foods to Eat

Most healthy eating plans include these high-fat foods. However, be wary if weight loss is your ultimate goal as to how many high-fat foods you include in your meal plan - moderation is always key!

 

The best high fat foods are that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. You can find those in plants. Plants should always be the star of your plate!

 

The healthiest high-fat foods to eat include avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. Researchers suggest eating lots of polyunsaturated fat is linked with a lower risk of death, heart disease, and cancer.

 

15 High-fat Foods You Should Eat More Often

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Anchovies
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Nut Butters
  • Olives
  • Olive Oil
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts

 

The Healthiest Way to Eat Fat

You can make a healthier swap: trade in unhealthy high-fat foods (fried, processed, animal) for healthier options, such as nuts, tofu, seeds, olives or fish.

 

Is Tofu High in Fat?

Interestingly, tofu is considered a high-fat food as about half of the total calories come from fat However, tofu is a healthy choice. Tofu contains no cholesterol and is low in saturated fat. Plus, tofu helps lower cholesterol: soy contains isoflavones which help to lower cholesterol and improve endothelial function (the lining of blood vessels that control blood pressure and flow).

Tofu also contains heart-healthy plant sterols, a type of plant-based compound that has a similar structure to cholesterol and is thought to help by blocking some of the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. Tofu is a healthy food: studies show tofu may improve blood pressure, lower inflammation, improve blood sugar balance, as well as lower both LDL and total cholesterol.

 

How Much Fat Should You Eat?

It’s confusing to know how much of which fat you should eat. First, a shift in thinking is needed. The fat-fearing nutritional guidelines of last century left many people feeling fat-phobic. Science has shown foods that contain healthful polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are part of a healthy dietary pattern. How much fat you eat is a personal choice.  

 

Hold on! Let's be clear... 

…never would I want to suggest you have to give up on french fries (or other favourites)!

Simply, try to eat fewer of them - swapping in other foods that offer you health benefits. Next time you serve up a plate of fries, put some veggies on there first (that'll take up some of the space).

 

Originally written for the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Allison is a content writer for many health and wellness organizations, publications & companies.

 

References:

 

A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. Nutr J 2017; 16:53.

 

The effect of dietary fat consumption on Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis in mouse models. Translational Psychiatry 2022 July 22; 12: 293.

 

Inflammatory links between high fat diets and diseases. Front Immunol 2018 Nov 13.

 

Dietary cholesterol and the lack of evidence in cardiovascular disease. Nutrients 2018 Jun; 10(6): 780.

 

Beyond the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy protein: a review of the effects of dietary soy and its constituents on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Nutrients 2017 Apr; 9(4): 324.

                         

Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidaemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis 2014 Feb; 232(2): 346-60.

 

Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Apr; 86(3):809.

 

Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ 2015; 351: h3978.

 

Association between dietary fat intake and mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Clin Nutr 2021 Mar; 40(3):1060-1070.




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