The World’s 9 Healthiest Natural Fats
When we think of fats we think of oils, animal fats, and avocados (spoiler alert, avocados are on the list). But fat is a macronutrient found in so many foods and many of those foods are extremely good for you.
It used to be that culinary fat was a dirty word. Low-fat diets were everywhere and the thought of using real butter was unthinkable. Now it’s the opposite. Now that everyone understands that the fat you eat is different from the fat that shows up on our body, and that fats are super important to a balanced diet and over-all well being… we’re all wising-up to appreciating fats from natural sources. It’s time to focus in on which fats are best.
This list is for EVERYONE, not just for people on Keto or those trying to eat a high percentage of fats in their diet! The fats that we’ve chosen are also not necessarily the fats with the highest macronutrient ratio of fats to carbs, but instead the best “bang for your buck,” nutritionally speaking.
1. Macadamia Nuts
1/4 cup (30g) = 220 cals, 23g FAT, 3g CARBS
QUICK BITE: Great for feeling more full, curbing hunger pains, and helping Omega-3’s be better absorbed and more powerful.
Macadamia nuts are simply one of the best nuts out there! Not only do they have that creamy texture and butter-like flavor, but they’re also packing some serious benefits.
Macadamia nuts are tree nuts (allergies beware) that are originally native to the western rainforests of Australia, but are now grown around the world in similar climes places around the world, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and their frenemies to the south, New Zealand.
So, aside from being delicious, Macadamia nuts contain Palmotoleic acid, which is an omega-7. The under-loved and under-recognized Omega-7’s are basically the omega wing-man. They’re great at assisting the omega-3’s you’re already eating become more powerful and absorb better into your system!
They also are high in omega-9’s which trigger Oleoylethanolamide (or OEA for short), a lipid in the small intestine that signals the brain to create or remove hunger pains. The OEA’s in Macadamia nuts literally tell your brian (via your gut) that you’re full and don’t need to feel cravings anymore.
1 can (44g) = g FAT, 0g CARB, 23g PROTEIN
QUICK BITE: The highest concentration of Omega-3’s of any fish, Sardines have low-risk of mercury poisoning, and high protein and calcium making them great for longevity. Also they’re relatively inexpensive per serving compared to fresh salmon.
Look, if you don’t like fish, move along. These guys are fish-tastic, and you eat them with the skin and bones. If you like fish in general and are just a little trepidatious about Sardines, we highly recommend them. They’re delish!
Sardines are literally one of the staples of the Mediterranean, Longevity,. and Blue Zone Diets and have been around for centuries. These small fish are actually named after Sardinia, an island off the coast of central Italy where they are abundant and abundantly enjoyed. And if you’ve read our Blue Zones blog, you know one of the world’s top 5 healthiest peoples are the Sardinians.
So why are sardines on this list and not the ever-loved Salmon? For a couple of great reasons.
Firstly, sardines are much higher in Omega-3’s than salmon and also include high levels of iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
But there are also some practical reasons for choosing sardines. Sardines are low on the fish totem pole and only eat plankton, meaning they’re significantly less likely to have any traces of mercury poisoning than bigger fish that are higher up the food chain. Also, with their global abundance and ease of catching, they’re much cheaper than the same serving size of the precious pink salmon.
3. Chia Seeds
1 tablespoon = 58 Calories, 3.7g FAT, 5.1g CARBS
QUICK BITE: Chia seeds are a nearly perfect food. Full of protein, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3’s, they’re an ancient superfood worth using.
Chia seeds may seem like a new plant-based fad food, but they’re an ancient superfood secret and were an essential and important food for the Aztec and Mayan Kingdoms where they were beloved for their incredible energy.
Fun fact: “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”
So where does that strength come from? Well, chia is an all around superfood that has a great balance of macros. You’ll notice that chia is not a full fat like the first two on our list but contains a substantial portion of nutrients from carbohydrates and proteins.
In fact, a tablespoon serving contains 5.1 grams of carbs. However, 4.1 of those grams are those are pure fiber, which your body doesn’t digest! Though it belongs to the carbohydrate family, its health effects are drastically different from those of digestible carbs like starch and sugar. Meaning you get the healthy fats while you get a boost of energy!
4. Dark Chocolate
1 ounce (bitter, 70%+ dark chocolate) = 155 Calories, 9g FAT, 3g NET CARBS
QUICK BITE: While it’s not the highest percentage of fat on the list, chocolate is rare in that it provides multiple healthy fats, antioxidants, and releases serotonin at the same time.
Definitely the most fun on this list, Dark Chocolate came to make you feel better. Literally! Dark Chocolate has an endocannabinoid effect on the body. No, not cannabis… although you’re not far off. Endocannabinoids are lipids that cause an endorphin rush and release serotinin, which makes you feel happy. And the best part is you can buy bitter dark chocolate made with no sugar and still get these feel-good vibes without the sugar crash.
Even better than the chocolate happy times, studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary stuff) can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease. The fats (yes, chocolate is a fat) are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
And bonus, chocolates are packed full of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols, some studies showing them beating out other fruits including blueberries and acai berries.
5. Olive Oil
1 tablespoon oil = 119 Calories, 14g FAT, 0 CARBS
QUICK BITE: Extra Virgin Olive oil is still the healthiest oil on Earth. It’s anti-inflammatory, protects against aging, and is great for overall health. It is very fragile however and is best drizzled over salads than cooked with.
When you think of the Mediterranean diet, you probably envision olive oil drizzling down over a beautiful salad while sitting in a cliff-side town overlooking the sea, right? Well, you’re not wrong. Olive oil is one of the key dietary staples for some of the world’s healthiest people.
Recently olive oil came under some flack and people started saying it’s not as healthy as they thought. This is not true. However, olive oil is a fragile oil that becomes unstable at higher temperatures, is isn’t good for frying. We recommend using it cold, as it was intended, in salads, marinades, or with fish and veggies.
Buying the right type of olive oil is crucial, especially in the United States where our government allows for a lot of sneaky additives and shortcuts that most other countries outlawed long ago.
There are three main grades of olive oil — refined, virgin, and extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed or refined type. Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest type of olive oil. It’s extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and should taste like pure olives.
This is one place where you don’t want to buy cheap. Invest in some of the pure stuff to get the most benefits, and the best flavor.
6. Bone Marrow
1 tablespoon = 104 Calories, 11g FAT, 0 CARBS
QUICK BITE: Look, this isn’t something we recommend eating on the regular. But bone marrow contains collagen, conjugated linoleic acid, glycine, and the elusive vitamin B12 which help promote skin health and reduce joint pain.
Definitely not your everyday fat, Bone Marrow has become a delicacy in LA eateries lately as nose-to-tail eating has become more popular, but it’s actually been enjoyed across the world for thousands of years.
Once upon a time nose-to-tail and farm-to-fork weren’t trendy ethical food ideas, but were actually just the reality of how poor farmers ate. You had to eat the entire animal and make sure you got every last bit of nutrition out of it, because that’s often all you had, and to ignore delicious bits like bone marrow was incredibly wasteful.
So what is it? Well, bone marrow is that white/pink tissue in the center of your bones. All bones large enough to have a cavity have bone marrow, but you get the best percentage in the spine, hip, and thigh bones.
While all animals have some marrow in their bones, culturally the bone marrow of animals like cows, sheep, lamb, caribou, and moose are the most ancient and still the most common.
Bone marrow is 98% fat and is actually delicious, like the most sinfully creamy butter you’ve ever had, but it’s also full of rare vitamins and minerals that just don’t exist in any other sources like collagen, conjugated linoleic acid, and glycine.
Being so high in fat, and calories, you definitely want to go easy and use bone marrow as a treat on occasion or use bone marrow to make broth for soups and stews.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup = 143 Calories, 6g FAT, 11g NET CARBS
QUICK BITE: Pumpkin seeds may be small, but only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc.
Snackers rejoice! While pumpkin seeds do have a significant amount of carbohydrates, the fats and vitamins and minerals inside them make them a plant-based powerhouse of nutrition.
Full of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, and vitamin B2, as well as vitamin K, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, they’ve been linked to a wide variety of health benefits from reducing the likelihood of cancer, treating those with cancer, improving prostate and bladder health, and reducing inflammation.
1 Avocado = 322 Calories, 30g FAT, 17g CARBS
QUICK BITE: No surprise here! Avocados are 77% Oleic acid, which help with fat burning and satiety, plus they’re just delicious.
Look, we all already worship the avocado so there’s no need to explain what they are and why they’re great. Let’s get right into the science.
Avocado is (obviously) a high-fat food. In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods on Earth.
But it’s not just any old fat. The majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid — just like sardines and olive oil! Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been associated with reduced inflammation and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
Beyond that, avocados are also extremely high in potassium which is one of those nutrients we never seem to get enough of in a standard American diet. In fact, it’s got a higher potassium content than the poster-boy of potassium, the banana.
Plus, as Californians, we gotta take pride in our luscious home fruit. California and Northern Mexico are native lands of the Avocado, which means we get them cheaper and better than everywhere else in the world! Let’s celebrate with some guac.
1 tablespoon = 112 Calories, 13g of FAT, 0g CARBS
QUICK BITE: Truly a better butter, so make the swap. But it’s still butter, so go lightly. Full of omega-3’s, vitamin A, E, and D, overall it’s a healthy fat to use in rotation with other oils.
What is ghee? Well simply, it’s butter. But it’s ultra clarified and pure.
A staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is made through a simple process of boiling butter and then pouring off the butterfat, eliminating the proteins (casein and whey) and the milk solids (which includes lactose). What’s left is also known as clarified butter.
Much like butter, ghee has gotten a bad reputation over the past 30 years due to its high saturated fat content. But research has revealed that instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, ghee actually decreases it — and that’s not the only trick it has up its sleeve.
Ghee made from grass-fed and finished cows milk and the butter is packed with vitamins A, D, E and K. Ghee is also rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines which helps in healing your gut lining, as well as other cardiovascular benefits.
Healthy Fats at MacroPlate
Okay, no we don’t use bone marrow… but healthy all-natural fats sources and balanced macros are extremely important to us at MacroPlate.
We use a lot of:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Grass-fed Beef
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- and much more!
Whether you’re paleo, plant-based, high-protein, or keto, you an always trust us to use the best fats, carbs and proteins for your calorie goals and preferences! Try us out at macro-plate.com and let us know in the comments which healthy fat on this list has inspired you to try something new!