9 Healthy Sources Of Fats For Vegetarians To Consume

Everything you need to know before including good fat in your vegetarian diet.

Medically reviewed by Bulelani Makapela, RD Bulelani Makapela Bulelani MakapelaRD facebook_icon
Written by , B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition Tanya Choudhary B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition twitter_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2 years
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When people decide to lose weight, they first cut down fats from their diet, which is wrong because they require good fats. However, while non-vegetarians can easily get their fat content from meat, it is difficult to find healthy sources of fat for vegetarians as they do not consume meat, fish ,or eggs. So, if you are a vegetarian who wants to know about all the foods that provide a dose of good fats, this article is just for you.

Not all food items containing fats are good for your health. Instead, some may contain trans-saturated fats, generally known as unhealthy fat. These fats play a crucial role in making you gain unwanted weight, and they increase the levels of cholesterol in your body. So, let us help you consume healthy fats through your diet.

Below, we have all the details that you must read right away. Scroll down to know how to stay healthy and consume good fats if you are a vegetarian. Keep reading!

About Fats:

Vegetarians usually include a lot of butter, cream, cheese and other fatty substances in their diet to get the required amount of fat. On the other hand, those who are health conscious end up avoiding these altogether. Neither of the two options is good for your health. The fats that you acquire in your diet may come from ghee, butter or cheese, but it falls into the group of trans-saturated fat or unhealthy fat. These fats add to your body weight and increase your cholesterol level (1).

Why Are Fats Essential For Our Body?

It is a myth that fats only pile up to give you a plump look. This happens only in cases when you have consumed more fat than needed. Just the way that proteins, minerals, calcium and vitamins are essential for your body, so are fats. Some of the reasons why fats are beneficial to your body include: (2).

    • Fats are an excellent source of energy, even more than carbohydrates and proteins. 1 gram of fat gives you 9 calories of energy.
    • Fats store energy in your body. During fasting or strenuous workout sessions, fats burn into energy to give you strength.
    • Some vitamins like vitamin A, D, E & K are fat soluble. Fat makes it easy for these vitamins to be absorbed by the intestine.
  • Fats also help in building healthy body cells. They act as a protective sheath to each and every cell. Not only body cells, but fats also help in the proper development of brain cells.
  • Fat regulates body temperature.
  • Fat adds a shine and glow to your skin making it look healthy. It also gives you healthy hair.
  • Fats protect some very vital organs of your body like heart, kidneys and intestines. They form a layer around these organs and act as a cushion supporting them from any sort of injury.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Fats help produce steroid hormones in the body, including estrogen and testosterone.

There are three types of fats found in food:

  • Saturated fatty acids (SFAs)
  • Trans-saturated fatty acids
  • Unsaturated fatty acids – This is divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Vegetarian healthy fats and their types
Image: Shutterstock

Bad Fat:

Both saturated fats and trans-saturated fats are unhealthy fats which are mainly harmful for your body.

Other than adding weight, they also increase cholesterol level, which may result in many heart diseases and strokes (1).

Butter, hard cheese, cream, cookies, cakes, coconut milk, fatty cuts of meat, and fried foods are sources of saturated fat.

Good Fat:

Mono-unsaturated and Poly-unsaturated fats exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and are good for your health.

They lower your blood cholesterol level, have anti-inflammatory properties, and also prevent blood clotting (3).

Poly-unsaturated fatty acids can again be classified into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Both these fatty acids should be essentially available in your regular diet for maintaining a proper health. Whole milk and full-fat yogurt are rich dairy sources of good fats.

Sarah, a blogger, shared her experience of transitioning to a diet containing more healthy fats: “A few years ago I discovered a little secret about all of those fat free and reduced fat foods I was eating….to make them taste good, they add a ton of preservatives and sugar. When comparing the calories, most of the food had double the calories of its full fat version (i).” She added, “I went out on a limb and did something crazy. I changed my diet and started just following calorie counts and allowed myself to, gasp, eat full fat foods. Guess what? I didn’t gain any weight, and my food tasted a lot better.”

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

    In order to add good fat to your body, you need to know what to consume. Here is a list of the various sources of healthy fats that you should look to incorporate in your diet:

    1. Almonds, Nuts and Seeds:

    Almonds nuts and seeds are healthy fat foods for vegetarians
    Image: Image: shutterstock

    Almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts are a very rich source of omega 3 fatty acids that are also found in fatty fish and are actually good for your health. They add to the good cholesterol level (4), (5).

    A recent study showed the percentage of different fatty acids in various types of nuts, including almonds. These saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids help maintain good health by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol levels) in the body. The exact value of fatty acid content in nuts is displayed in the graph below.

    Representation Of Different Fatty Acids In Various Types Of Nuts

    Source: Nuts: Natural Pleiotropic Nutraceuticals
    • Each time you feel hungry between meals, try and have a fistful of nuts instead of biscuits, cakes, pastries or cereal bars. Nuts with dark chocolate also make a healthy snack when consumed in limited quantities.
    • Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and can be dry roasted to use on top of salads, oatmeal, or in baked goods.
    • Nuts will keep you full for a longer time as well as also add to your health.
    • Flax seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fats. You can have these seeds whole or ground them to fine powder and store them in an air-tight container.
    • Sprinkle on top of your favorite smoothies or mix with milk. This is the healthiest and the best source of fat.
    • Roasted nuts can be ground to prepare nut butter, which are rich sources of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

    2. Plant Oils:

    Plant oil is healthy fat food for vegetarians
    Image: Image: shutterstock

    Vegetable oil, olive oil, sunflower oil or canola oil are very rich and healthy sources of fat in food (6), (7).

    According to a survey including 1000 Americans, it was found that 65% believed that olive oil was beneficial to one’s health while 5% believed it was harmful. 17% believed that it had no effect on the body or health of a person, while 14% were not sure of its benefits or harmful effects.

    • Use these oils whenever cooking (except olive oil as it is best to consume it raw). Use a teaspoon of oil for each person you are cooking for.
    • You may also use a small spoonful or two in your salad dressing.
    • Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it cannot be used for cooking as it breaks down at high temperatures. You can use it in your salads or smoothies.
    • If you love having ghee, try having homemade ghee. They are much healthier than those bought from the market.
    • Tahini, prepared with sesame seed and olive oil, is rich in healthy unsaturated fats.

    3. Soya beans:

    Soya beans are a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids which reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (8).

    4. Mayonnaise:

    Mayonnaise is also a very good source of unsaturated fat.

    • Always check the label before buying.
    • Spreading cheese or butter on your sandwiches can be replaced by mayonnaise.

    5. Tofu:

    Tofu as a healthy source of fat
    Image: Shutterstock

    Tofu is cottage cheese or paneer that is made from soy milk. It tastes almost the same as paneer that is made from milk. It is one of the best sources of fat, especially polyunsaturated fats that may regulate blood sugar levels (9).

    protip_icon Quick Tip
    Tempeh is an excellent alternative to tofu. It is prepared by pressing whole soybeans and has a chewy texture.

    6. Soy Milk:

    This is another good source of polyunsaturated fat that may improve the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc (10), (11).

    7. Corn:

    Corn oil is also a good source of unsaturated fat which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (12), (13).

    8. Avocados and Olives:

    Avocados and olives are healthy fat foods for vegetarians
    Image: Image: shutterstock

    Avocados and olives contain a good amount of mono-unsaturated fats which may protect against heart diseases (14), (15).

    • Have half an avocado per day. They are good for your heart and also improve your memory.
    • The green soft flesh of avocado is rich in unsaturated fat.
    • Mash avocados as sandwich dressing, in salads or even consumed raw with a pinch of salt and pepper as a healthy and yummy treat.
    • Olives are also heart-friendly fruits with monounsaturated fat. They help in lowering your cholesterol level.
    • 100 grams of olives contain just 15 grams of fat.
    • Include olives in your salad or have it in your pasta toppings.

    9. Vegetables:

    Vegetables are generally fat-free. But cooking and frying makes vegetables rich in fats, which are unhealthy.

    • Prepare veggies by baking, brushing just a little olive oil, or you may also stir-fry veggies.

    Infographic: How To Get More Healthy Fats In A Vegetarian Diet

    A vegetarian diet can be very healthy, with plenty of micronutrients from all plant-based foods. However, if you are not aware, your diet may become deficient in one important macronutrient— fat! All fat is not bad for you, and healthy fats are, in fact, essential for a balanced diet to ensure optimum health. Check out the following infographic to learn about the simple and delicious ways you can include more healthy fats in your meals.

    how to get more healthy fats in a vegetarian diet (infographic)

    Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

    Fat has a major role to play in our bodies. However, compared to non-vegetarians, individuals who consume vegetarian foods tend to accumulate lesser fat. So, including healthy fat sources in their diet helps them with the required energy. Fat also regulates body temperature and promotes hair and skin health. Avocados, olives, corn, vegetables, seeds, nuts, almonds, plant oils, mayonnaise, soymilk, and tofu are some of the best sources of healthy fats. Try including these foods in your regular diet in moderate amounts.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What food has fat but no protein?

    Virgin coconut oil has fat but no protein. One tablespoon of virgin coconut oil has 14 grams of fat and 0 protein (16).

    What foods make you fat fast?

    Homemade protein shakes, potato chips, red meats, salmon, and protein supplements make you fat quickly.

    Can I still lose weight while consuming healthy sources of fat?

    Yes, you can still lose weight while consuming healthy sources of fat in moderation as they help you control your appetite and prevent overeating. According to a study, the intake of moderately high-fat diets like MeDiet can prevent obesity (17).

    How much fat should I be eating per day?

    According to the World Health Organization and Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, you should be eating 20 to 35% of fats of your total calorie intake per day (18). So, if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet, your total fat intake should be nearly 44-78 grams/day.

    What happens if you don’t eat healthy fats?

    Not eating healthy fats in your diet can affect your skin and hair health, make your feel fatigued, and affect your overall health. Very low-fat diets are also linked with a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome in adults (19).

    Key Takeaways

    • Some sources of healthy fats are nuts and seeds, plant oils, and vegetables.
    • Fats may help in brain development and are converted into energy during fasting or intense workouts to give you strength.
    • A, D, E, and K are some of the fat-soluble vitamins, which the intestine absorbs more easily when fat is present
    • Fats may help build healthy body cells.
    healthy sources of fat_illustration

    Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

    The video below discusses a few high-fat foods that are good for your health. It details the food’s goodness and why you should include it in your diet. Watch this video to know more!

    Personal Experience: Source

    References

    Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

    1. Trans fatty acids and lipid profile: A serious risk factor to cardiovascular disease cancer and diabetes
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331822682_Trans_fatty_acids_and_lipid_profile_A_serious_risk_factor_to_cardiovascular_disease_cancer_and_diabetes
    2. A comparative overview on good fats and bad fats: guide to control healthy body
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265785533_A_comparative_overview_on_good_fats_and_bad_fats_guide_to_control_healthy_body
    3. Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Are Protective Against Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49824076_Dietary_Monounsaturated_Fatty_Acids_Are_Protective_Against_Metabolic_Syndrome_and_Cardiovascular_Disease_Risk_Factors
    4. Omega‐3 fatty acids in wild plants nuts and seeds
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227602600_Omega-3_fatty_acids_in_wild_plants_nuts_and_seeds
    5. Fatty acid composition of nuts – Implications for cardiovascular health
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6671762_Fatty_acid_composition_of_nuts_-_Implications_for_cardiovascular_health
    6. Sunflower oil: Efficient oil source for human consumption
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308032797_Sunflower_oil_Efficient_oil_source_for_human_consumption
    7. Does cooking with vegetable oils increase the risk of chronic diseases?: A systematic review
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279863541_Does_cooking_with_vegetable_oils_increase_the_risk_of_chronic_diseases_A_systematic_review
    8. Beneficial Outcomes of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Human Health: An Update for 2021
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC8308533/
    9. Tofu: A Popular Food with High Nutritional and Health Benefits
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332343856_Tofu_A_Popular_Food_with_High_Nutritional_and_Health_Benefits
    10. Soymilk as source of nutrient for malnourished population of developing country: A review
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330727127_Soymilk_as_source_of_nutrient_for_malnourished_population_of_developing_country_A_review
    11. Soya–the medicine food product
      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17966452/
    12. Corn sweet yellow raw
      https://www.google.com/url?q=https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html%23/food-details/169998/nutrients&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1646317500383710&usg=AOvVaw36wYQds1i7JiqTM3RjHelo
    13. Sweet Corn -A Future Healthy Human Nutrition Food
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344212546_Sweet_Corn_-A_Future_Healthy_Human_Nutrition_Food
    14. Avocados (monounsaturated fatty acids) weight loss and serum lipids
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/238785952_Avocados_monounsaturated_fatty_acids_weight_loss_and_serum_lipids
    15. Table olives and health: A Review
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7737178/
    16. VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
      https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/724940/nutrients
    17. Quality of Dietary Fat Intake and Body Weight and Obesity in a Mediterranean Population: Secondary Analyses within the PREDIMED Trial
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315420/
    18. A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577766/
    19. Very-low-fat diets may be associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome in the adult population
      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26602244/
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    Bulelani Makapela is a registered dietitian based in East London, South Africa. She has an interest in clinical and community nutrition and food service management. She is passionate about nutrition education as she believes it is one of the fundamental parts in the treatment of individuals with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, etc.   Bulelani completed her studies at...read full bio

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