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Choose These Healthy Fat Options

Good fats for your coconut bowl

While eating fatty food may sound like a bad thing, some fats can play an essential role in keeping your heart healthy. 

Many foods we eat contain different fats and some are healthier than others.  

Choosing healthy fats can:

  • Aid healthier blood cholesterol levels. 
  • Lower other cardiovascular (heart) risk factors. 
  • Add flavour to food. 

What are the different types of fats? 

There are four main types of fats:

  • Monounsaturated fats 
  • Polyunsaturated fats 
  • Saturated fats 
  • Trans fats. 

Healthy (unsaturated) fats 

Healthy fats tend to be liquid at room temperature. They include: 

  • Monounsaturated fats  
  • Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6). 

Unhealthy fats  

Unhealthy fats tend to be solid at room temperature. They include:

  • Saturated fat  
  • Trans fat. 
Replace saturated and trans fats with healthy unsaturated fats as part of a healthy diet. 

How much fat should you eat a day? 

It’s the big picture that matters. The type of fat you eat is more important than the total amount.  

You can get the balance of fats right by: 

  • Swapping unhealthy fats for healthy fats in your diet. 
  • Enjoying a combination of heart-healthy foods regularly over time. 
  • Follow our guidelines for eating for a healthy heart to helps provide you with the right balance of fats. 

Eat more healthy fats  

Foods that contain healthy monounsaturated fats include:

  • Avocados 
  • Unsalted nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts  
  • Olives  
  • Cooking oils made from plants or seeds, including: olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, soybean, sesame and safflower. 


Foods that contain healthy polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) include: 

  • Fish 
  • Tahini (sesame seed spread) 
  • Linseed (flaxseed) and chia seeds 
  • Soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola oil and margarine spreads made from these oils 
  • Pine nuts, walnuts and brazil nuts. 

Try to eat omega-3 from all three sources 

1. Marine

  • Oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines 
  • Barramundi 
  • Flathead 
  • Scallops 
  • Mussels. 

2. Plant  

  • Walnuts 
  • Linseeds (flaxseeds) 
  • Chia seeds 
  • ​Oils and spreads. 

    Help lower your cholesterol with plant sterols 

    Plant sterols are cholesterol-like substances that can lower cholesterol levels. They are found naturally in foods such as: 

    • Fruits 
    • Vegetables 
    • Nuts 
    • Cereals. 


    Plant sterols are also added to some foods in Australia. You can check the food label to see what a serving size is and if plant sterols have been added. Foods that often have plant sterols added include:  

    • Margarine 
    • Milk 
    • Yoghurt 
    • Breakfast cereal. 

    Eat less unhealthy fat-containing foods 

    Saturated fats  

    Saturated fats can be found in both animal and plant products. When eating less saturated fat, the foods you replace it with are important. Follow the Heart Foundation’s heart healthy eating pattern to achieve a healthy mix of fats. 

    Foods that commonly contain saturated fats include: 

    • Butter 
    • Coconut oil 
    • Palm oil (often called vegetable oil in products) 
    • Processed foods, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, and takeaway foods 
    • Lard 
    • Ghee 
    • Copha 
    • Dripping 
    • Fat on meat  
    • The skin on chicken and other poultry 
    • Processed or deli-style meats, such as salami, ham, and bacon 
    • Cream 
    • Ice cream. 

    Trans fats  

    Trans fats are found naturally in some foods, such as butter, dairy and some meat products. Most of the trans fats eaten in Australia are from processed foods. 

    Some trans fat-containing foods to eat less of include:  

    • Deep-fried foods 
    • Biscuits, cakes and pastries 
    • Butter 
    • Takeaway foods, such as hamburgers, pizza and hot chips 
    • Foods that list ‘hydrogenated oils’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils’ on the ingredients list. 

    Source: Heart Foundation Australia

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