Last Updated on October 2, 2019 by Michael Joseph
Some people wonder which low carb foods contain “good” fats.
Rather than debate the health properties of isolated fats – whether saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated – it is better to take a whole food view.
While pure fat (like olive oil) can play a role in a healthy diet, whole food sources always win when it comes to nutrient density.
This article presents a list of whole-food sources of fat which are rich in essential nutrients.
For each food, you can see the fat and net carbs content (total carbs minus fiber) per 100 g.
You can also see the fat density and this refers to the proportion of calories that come from fat.
- Fat: 14.7 g
- Net Carbs: 1.8 g
- Fat Density: 82.7%
Avocados are a delicious fruit packed with healthy fats.
The fruit is especially popular in Mexican cuisine, and avocados are integral to the delicious condiment guacamole.
It is quite surprising how nutrient-dense avocados are; they supply a substantial amount of monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium and an impressive range of vitamins (1).
With less than 2 grams of net carbohydrate, they are suitable for all low carb diets.
- Fat: 9.9 g
- Net Carbs: 0.8 g
- Fat Density: 62.3%
Many people consider eggs to be “nature’s multi-vitamin” because they contain almost every vitamin and mineral (2).
While they won’t supply 100% of the RDA for each one, they are still incredibly nutrient-dense.
Eggs have a few other advantages too; they’re a great source of retinol, a highly bio-available form of vitamin A.
They are also one of the few sources of dietary choline, an important nutrient that many people are unaware of.
3. Rib-eye Steak
- Fat: 22.1 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 72.6%
While all steak contains an appreciable amount of fat, rib-eye is one of the fattiest cuts around.
It is arguably the tastiest too.
For those who can affordably source it, this fatty steak offers a range of nutrients, and it’s an especially good source of B vitamins, iron, selenium, and zinc (3).
4. Pork Chop
- Fat: 11.1 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 47.8 %
Let’s switch away from beef to what is possibly the most famous cut of pork; the pork chop.
While they are much leaner than most cuts of meat, pork chops still offer a decent amount of fat.
Pork is also surprisingly nutrient-dense, and similar to beef, pork chops are packed with essential B vitamins (4).
For those who enjoy cooking, there’s a delicious pork chop recipe (complete with heavy cream, mushrooms and onions) here.
5. Whole Milk
- Fat: 3.3 g
- Net Carbs: 5.3 g
- Fat Density: 49.5%
Milk provides a natural source of all three macronutrients; carbohydrate, fat and protein (5).
However, the carb count does add up depending on how much milk you drink, so it might not be the best option for very strict low-carb diets.
Whole milk is the way nature intended we drink it and it is certainly the best-tasting option.
And there is no need to fear dairy fat; studies show it is either neutral or protective against cardiovascular risk (6).
Milk is particularly high in the mineral calcium which is important for skeletal health.
6. Chicken Thigh (With Skin)
- Fat: 15.5 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 56.5%
Sometimes chicken gets given a hard time.
It isn’t as tasty as beef, and it doesn’t quite match up nutritionally.
However, chicken is a reasonably nutrient-dense food and – providing we aren’t talking about fat-free chicken breasts – it is quite tasty too.
Some salted skin-on roasted chicken has a lot of flavor and it offers a wide range of nutrients.
Among these, chicken is an especially good source of B vitamins, phosphorus and selenium (7).
There is also the fact that chicken skin is a natural source of collagen/gelatin, something that is lacking in many modern diets.
- Fat: 65.2 g
- Net Carbs: 7 g
- Fat Density: 89.8%
We should see all nuts as nature’s “fat bombs” as they are incredibly rich in dietary fat.
Walnuts are one of the more popular nut varieties, and while they are very high in calories, they offer a lot of nutrients too.
The walnut is particularly high in the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus (8).
In addition to a healthy range of fat, they also supply a decent amount of protein.
8. Macadamia Nuts
- Fat: 75.8 g
- Net Carbs: 5.6 g
- Fat Density: 95%
On the topic of “fat bombs”, macadamia nuts probably best represent the name.
Macadamias are one of the most fat-dense foods in the world with a surprisingly high fat-density of 95% (9).
They are nutritious too and contain a large amount of copper, manganese and vitamin B1.
Another advantage of this nut is the taste; macadamias are crunchy on the outside with a soft and buttery center.
Personally, I think they’re the best-tasting nut.
Macadamia nuts are also very low in omega-6 fatty acids, which may be important for those who are trying to eat a more balanced omega-6 to 3 ratio.
9. Wild Salmon
- Fat: 8.1 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 40%
Salmon is among the best seafood choices we have; it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, yet very low in mercury contamination.
Unlike plant sources of omega-3, salmon provides pre-formed docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which are both highly bio-available forms of the fat.
Nutrient-wise, salmon provides most vitamins and minerals, and it is a very good source of selenium and B vitamins (10).
But that is not all; salmon even contains some interesting phytonutrients such as the carotenoid fucoxanthin.
This compound is responsible for salmon’s orange-red color and studies suggest that it may potentially have an anti-inflammatory effect (11).
10. Atlantic Mackerel
- Fat: 13.9 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 61%
While mackerel isn’t quite as popular as salmon, it provides many of the same health benefits at a lower cost.
Similar to salmon, mackerel is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and it is also one of the cleanest fish in the sea.
Just one thing to bear in mind; Atlantic mackerel is virtually free of mercury, but the larger Spanish mackerel have high levels of mercury contamination.
Mackerel is a good source of protein and it provides a significant amount of selenium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D (12).
11. Cocoa Powder
- Fat: 14 g
- Net Carbs: 25 g
- Fat Density: 55.3%
Concerning their relative taste profiles, dark chocolate quite easily beats cocoa powder.
However, since this is a list of whole foods, cocoa powder gets into the list due to its minimal degree of processing. While dark chocolate is usually a combination of cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar, cocoa powder is different.
Producers make cocoa powder by simply fermenting and roasting cacao beans, which are then ground into a dry paste.
On the positive side, cocoa powder is incredibly nutrient-dense. Just 1 oz (28 g) provides substantial amounts of copper, manganese and magnesium (13).
While cocoa powder appears to be high in carbohydrate, this is only because it is packed with fiber. Additionally, a typical serving size is very small.
12. Sesame Seeds
- Fat: 48 g
- Net Carbs: 11.7 g
- Fat Density: 76.5%
Sesame seeds are a popular flavoring aid and they are especially prominent in Asian cuisine.
Less is more when it comes to sesame seeds, but they offer an incredible nutty flavor which works well in various dishes.
Nutritionally, sesame seeds provide a wealth of minerals. 100 grams beats (or almost meets) the RDA for calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese (14).
Like all seeds, sesame is very high in omega-6 fats.
Some people worry that eating too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 could cause problems, but a small handful of sesame seeds from time to time won’t do any harm.
Just sprinkle a few on the top of a dish for a nice boost to the flavor.
13. Chia seeds
- Fat: 31 g
- Net Carbs: 8 g
- Fat Density: 57.4%
Chia seeds enjoy a lot of popularity in recent times, and various celebrity doctors dub them with the “superfood” tag.
But to be honest, if we listened to that then almost every food is a superfood.
In reality, no single food will make a huge difference and it is our overall diet that matters.
That said, chia seeds are relatively nutritious and they are a source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Chia seeds also offer a decent amount of calcium, iron and magnesium (15).
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the omega-3 within chia seeds is quite low in bio-availability. This is because the omega-3 comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and our body needs to convert it to DHA/EPA before we can use it.
For some people, the amount of ALA they can convert can be even lower than 10%, so don’t rely on chia for omega-3 (16).
Oily fish is a far better source.
- Fat: 45 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 88.4%
Bacon is a bit of a controversial food due to its nitrate and nitrite content.
Whereas some people fear it due to potential carcinogen links, others feel the dangers are over-exaggerated.
After all, vegetables contain bioequivalent nitrates.
Either way, bacon is one of the fattiest foods around with a fat-density of 88% (17).
15. Parmesan Cheese
- Fat: 25.8 g
- Net Carbs: 3.2 g
- Fat Density: 59.2%
Parmesan cheese isn’t quite a whole-food source of fat, but it is very close.
While there are arguments that cheese is a processed food, the processing is minimal, and cheese is basically coagulated and fermented milk.
There are many different varieties of cheese, and they all provide a substantial amount of calcium and protein (18).
However, during the fermentation process the natural sugars (lactose) in cheese are converted into lactic acid as the cheese matures.
As a result, some people with lactose intolerance may be able to consume aged cheese (such as parmesan).
Aged hard cheese like Parmesan is also a great source of the important vitamin K2.
16. Ground Lamb
- Fat: 23.4 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 74.7%
Lamb matches beef when it comes to nutrient density, and it may even offer slightly more nutritional value.
Unfortunately, it usually costs a bit more too.
Since lamb spend most of their time grazing on fresh pasture, lamb meat also offers a surprising source of omega-3 (19).
These omega-3 fatty acids are the bio-equivalent of those found in oily fish. As a result, the omega-3 in lamb has great bio-availability.
Lamb also provides notable amounts of protein, B vitamins and zinc.
17. Plain Yogurt (From Whole Milk)
- Fat: 3.3 g
- Net Carbs: 4.7 g
- Fat Density: 48.7%
Yogurt is a very healthy food.
In fact, systematic reviews demonstrate that full-fat fermented dairy products like yogurt are associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (20).
The nutrition profile is good too, and yogurt provides protein, calcium, and a range of minerals (21).
However, watch out for sugar; while plain yogurt is good for health, the benefits will be canceled out in varieties with added sugar.
For a healthier dessert option, plain yogurt mixed with dark chocolate shavings and a few berries is tasty.
- Fat: 49.4 g
- Net Carbs: 9.5 g
- Fat Density: 77.3%
Almonds are a nutritious nut that provide a wide range of beneficial nutrients.
Notably, they are one of the most significant dietary sources of vitamin E, with 100 grams providing 131% of the RDA.
Almonds are also very high in most minerals, providing an especially significant amount of magnesium and manganese (22).
In recent years, almond flour has become popular as a low-carb baking alternative to wheat flour.
Although almond flour is just pure pulverized almonds and shares the same nutritional profile, be wary not to overdo it.
For instance; it is difficult to eat more than a handful of almonds, but overeating becomes possible when large amounts are hidden within a recipe.
19. Brazil Nuts
- Fat: 66.4 g
- Net Carbs: 4.8 g
- Fat Density: 90.1%
We know them as Brazil nuts, but these large tree nuts grow throughout South America.
Surprisingly, the world’s largest producer of Brazil nuts is actually Bolivia.
Brazil nuts are much bigger in size than other nuts, and they contain an enormous amount of the mineral selenium. Just one nut contains well over the RDA for the mineral (23).
In fact, eating more than 2-3 nuts a day can quickly lead to selenium toxicity symptoms.
Brazil nuts are incredibly nutrient-dense and contain almost every vitamin and mineral – some in very high amounts. They are also loaded with fat, with more than 90% of their calories coming from it.
- Fat: 33.5 g
- Net Carbs: 6.2 g
- Fat Density: 85.2%
Despite many people thinking of coconuts as a nut, they are botanically a fruit.
Coconut products have surged in popularity over the past decade as fears over saturated fat slowly subsided.
And there are so many coconut products available too; creamed coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut chips, coconut vinegar…. and even coconut water.
However, this entry is just pure coconut.
Coconuts in their whole food form supply a large amount of fat. In fact, they offer a mixture of all three macronutrients and they are rich in minerals such as copper and manganese (24).
For some people, coconuts are an acquired taste and they tend to fall in the ‘love them or hate them’ category.
21. Sardines (Canned)
- Fat: 11.5 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 49.8%
Sardines are among the most nutritious foods in the human diet.
These small oily fish contain an abundance of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and several other important nutrients (25).
Since we eat the whole fish (including organs and bones) they contain extra nutrients that other fish can’t match.
Sardines also have the benefit of very low mercury exposure, making them one of the cleanest fish in the sea.
They may not be the tastiest fish in the world, but they are probably the healthiest.
- Fat: 11 g
- Net Carbs: 2.8 g
- Fat Density: 86.1%
Olives are a small fruit that originates in the Mediterranean region.
These days, they grow all around the world and there are so many different varieties.
As evidenced by the commercial olive oil industry, olives are one of the most fat-dense foods around.
The fatty acids in olives are very healthy too and they predominantly supply a source of monounsaturated fats (MUFA) (26).
Olives also contain various nutrients and polyphenols that beneficially impact our health (27).
23. Ground Beef (75% Lean)
- Fat: 25 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 76.8%
The second beef entry is ground beef, which is quite a lot different to rib-eye steak.
On the downside, it doesn’t taste as good…but it is a lot more affordable and it is just as good nutritionally.
The nutritional profile above is for the 75% fat variety, but if you want some really fatty meat then go for 70%.
In contrast, if you want to get a bit more protein/nutrient density, then opt for a leaner percentage.
Ground beef has lots of benefits; it is a great source of protein, rich in vitamins and minerals, and it is very cheap (28).
On the positive side, you can get a ground beef patty from almost everywhere – even McDonald’s.
24. Ground Turkey
- Fat: 9 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 48.5%
Turkey is for any time, not just Christmas.
Turkey breast is extremely lean, so opting for ground turkey provides a more fatty option.
Ground turkey is slightly lower in fat than chicken with skin, but it also provides a bit more protein and nutrients (29).
If you’re not sure what to do with ground turkey, then you can find some delicious recipes here.
25. Pecan Nuts
- Fat: 72 g
- Net Carbs: 4.4 g
- Fat Density: 93.8%
Native to Mexico and the United States, pecans are popular around the world for their slightly sweet and buttery taste.
Providing we’re not talking about pecan pie, they’re very healthy too. These tasty nuts supply an abundance of copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc (30).
Pecans provide a substantial fat density of 93.8 % and the majority of this is from oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat.
They’re a great healthy snack, especially if they’re replacing typical snack options such as potato chips.
- Fat: 11.6 g
- Net Carbs: 0 g
- Fat Density: 51.4%
Herring is a fatty fish that doesn’t get as much attention as salmon, sardines and tuna.
However, it is one of the best seafood choices. Two major reasons why are because it provides a large amount of omega-3 and it’s also a clean fish free from heavy metal contamination.
Nutrient-wise, herring is an impressive source of selenium and vitamin B12, among others (31).
Interestingly, herring are very similar to sardines and both fish belong to the same family. The main difference is that herring are bigger fish and people prepare them in different ways.
Some common ways to prepare herring include smoking, drying and fermenting, and this tends to depend on the country.
- Fat: 49.2 g
- Net Carbs: 7.6 g
- Fat Density: 78.1%
If you didn’t already know, peanuts are a legume rather than a true nut.
However, they are just as fatty as nuts and very tasty too – especially in their peanut butter form.
But sticking to the whole-food version of peanuts, these pseudo-nuts are fairly nutritious.
They contain more than 25% protein by weight and provide large amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, magnesium and manganese (32).
All the foods in this article are great options for a lower carb diet.
Importantly, there is a right way and a wrong way to eat a higher fat diet, and it is usually better to take it easy on isolated fats and oils.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with using butter and oils as condiments or for cooking.
But at the end of the day, the healthiest low carb diets are based around whole food sources of healthy fat.