Not that long ago, fat had a bad rap. But now, many have accepted the benefits of a balanced diet that includes healthy fats.
With the focus on disease and unhealthy habits shifting to mainly simple sugars and engineered starches, fat has a new lease on life.
When most health-conscious people think of healthy fats, they think of a pretty small list of options. Natural peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, nuts, nut butters, and other plant sources come to mind.
These are healthy and provide a myriad of benefits such as improved circulation, heart health, energy production, and even fat loss in some cases. But with a lack of variety, this versatile and beneficial macronutrient gets shortchanged.
Below are 5 unusual fat sources you may not be eating. These aren't hard to find items just sold in specialty shops. With a little research, you can find them in your very own town.
1. Krill Oil
This healthy wonder fat is from a tiny, red-colored, shrimp-like animal and contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids similar to those found in fish oil. As the main source of food for animals such as whale sharks, mantas, and baleen whales, the word krill in Norwegian actually means “whale food.”
Much like fish oil, krill is used to fight heart disease, combat high levels of triglycerides, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis risks, and fights the onset of depression. Krill oil also makes blood platelets less sticky which makes them less likely to form blood clots.
It also maintains blood sugar levels in the normal range, supports healthy joints, supports a healthy brain and nervous system, acts as an effective antioxidant, and improves immune function.
How much? As with most fats, a huge amount isn’t the best option as a little goes a long way. Since it’s impractical to eat a bowl of krill, it’s recommended to get beneficial amounts in supplemental pill form. Of course you will want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended daily doses which may be around 2 to 3 grams per day taken with your first meal.
2. Macadamia Nut Oil
Though many use it as a skin and hair treatment, macadamia nut oil is also an unsung hero of the digestible healthy fat world. Used for a salad topping or cooking, this oil has a high heat capacity which makes it appropriate for frying.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fat, it has more oleic acid (a good fatty acid) than olive oil. Macadamia oil also has anti-inflammatory properties which may help with memory and asthma. It's also high in magnesium, manganese, thiamine, copper, and iron, making it an all-around superfood.
Macadamia nut oil has a mild, buttery flavor making it an easy addition to many foods as a dressing or in place of more unhealthy varieties of fat. You can simply use it as a tasty replacement for olive oil.
How much? Since you can substitute macadamia oil for olive oil, the same parameters and amounts hold true for each. If you follow a typical healthy diet and set your fat percentages at around 30% of overall daily caloric intake, then macadamia oil can fit right in with no problem. Of course you will want to vary your fat intake and eat a variety of sources. Just keep in mind that 1 gram of fat still contains around 9 calories.
Ghee is an ancient clarified butter originating in India that is commonly used in cuisine, traditional medicine, and religious rituals. Ghee is made by simmering butter and removing the liquid residue which happens when the fat is separated from the milk solids. Ghee takes an additional step from traditional clarified butter by simmering the butter along with the milk solids and making them caramelize.
Ghee has a nutty, buttery taste and possesses a high smoke point making it ideal for cooking. It also has many benefits such as the lack of lactose (for people with dairy allergies), high levels of vitamins A and E, and is directly converted to energy much like carbohydrate due to the high levels of medium chain fatty acids.
How much? Since ghee can replace butter in your current diet, the same parameters for fat intake apply. It also doesn’t require refrigeration and will degrade with water and sunlight.
4. Egg Yolks
The yolk of an egg has been under scrutiny for decades as a silent killer, but lately it’s gained ground in nutrition circles. Now its benefits far outweigh the negatives. It provides vitamins such as A, D, B-12 and B-6 and its fat composition helps regulate key hormones such as testosterone.
Related: Top 10 Testosterone Boosting Foods
Those separating all yolks from whites are missing out on extra grams of protein, essential fats, and extra calories for those who are trying to gain muscle weight. Each yolk alone contains 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat – with only 1.5 grams coming from the saturated kind. A whole egg, subsequently, harnesses 7 grams of muscle-building protein.
How much? Whole eggs can be an integral part of your muscle-building plan. Since it yields such a high protein level, it’s ideal for adding to scrambled dishes, cooked oatmeal, and other dishes needing a protein boost. The best bet is to follow a ratio plan of 1 yolk for every 4 or 5 egg whites.
5. Full Fat Yogurt
Everyone has apparently jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon for good reason. As most varieties are packed with more protein (1 cup having around 20 grams) than regular yogurt, the Greek variety can also be found in low-sugar and natural options as well. With more protein per serving, it’s a no-brainer when thinking of different ways you can get in more sources of protein.
Full fat yogurt has caught on a bit lately especially among the all-natural foodies out there. But why? Some will posture that it’s less processed than its fat-free relative while others see it as completing a balanced snack including a protein, carb, and a fat all in one cup. Full fat yogurt is a viable option for any diet.
How much? Since this kind of fat (made from whole milk) is included with other ingredients such as lactose, cultures, and protein, you will have to treat full fat yogurt as a combination food. Instead of focusing on the fat itself, you can look at it as a balanced snack providing all required macronutrients. Full fat Greek yogurt contains around 220 calories, 11 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrate, and 20 grams of protein per cup.