Healthy high calorie foods
Calories are units of energy and all foods have them, but in differing amounts. Foods that contain lots of water, such as most fruits and vegetables, tend to be low in calories because water has 0 calories. On the other hand, foods that have a lot of fat tend to be high in calories because fat has 9 calories per gram.
‘High calories’ is often associated with foods such as cakes, pizza, potato chips and ice cream. These tend to be unhealthy foods because they usually have a lot of added sugar, salt and fat but provide very little nutritional value; they are also known as empty calories.
However there are also lots of high calorie foods that are very healthy. In most cases, these foods are as close to their natural state as possible, meaning they haven’t been modified much. In this article we will list out and briefly talk about the benefits of various healthy high calorie foods.
The foods can be a part of your diet whether you are trying to lose, maintain or gain weight. What is important is the portions in which they are eaten.
The avocado is actually a fruit and not a vegetable. It differs from most fruits because it contains much more fat. This can be clearly seen when you compare 100 g of avocado to 100 g of pineapple.
The former has around 15 grams of fat whereas the latter only has 0.1 g of fat. This is why an average avocado has around 300 calories.
Most of the fat found in avocados is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that brings with it certain health benefits. Oleic acid is thought to help reduce inflammation and has beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
Avocados are also loaded with dietary fiber; a 200 g serving provides you with more than half of your daily requirement. Fiber fills you up, can be handy when trying to lose weight, reduces blood sugar spikes and may help lower the risk of many diseases.
The calories that avocados provide are nutritionally dense. This is because they come with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as vitamins K, C, E, B5 & B6, potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. In fact when compared weight for weight, avocados have more potassium than bananas do.
What all this means is that avocados are a very healthy food and should definitely have a place in your diet. They can be eaten on their own, added to smoothies such as this one, used to prepare guacamole or even spread over toast in place of butter.
2. Nuts, seeds and their butters
There are a wide variety of nuts & seeds available and all of them are high in calories. The reason for this is because they are rich in fat. A 1 ounce (28 g) serving of Brazil nuts has 184 calories whereas a 1 ounce serving of sesame seeds has 160 calories. A tablespoon of almond butter has 101 calories.
Nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Take sunflower seeds for example. They contain vitamin E, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium and iron. They are also rich in fiber, protein & antioxidants. Most other nuts & seeds have similar nutritional profiles.
The vitamin E that they contain is linked with lower rates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, whilst magnesium may help to lower blood pressure levels. Nuts & seeds also help control blood sugar levels, assist with weight loss and maintain bone health.
Thanks to their versatility, they can be enjoyed in lots of different ways. They can be used to prepare trail mix, added to soups and processed in a food processor to make thick filling butters.
3. Dark chocolate
Chocolate is made from the bean of the cacao tree. There are three main types of chocolate – dark, milk and white. High quality dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cacao solids is by far the healthiest. This type of chocolate generally tastes quite bitter.
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate has around 600 calories, 43 g of fat, 46 g of carbs and 8 g of protein. It also contains large amounts of iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Dark chocolate is also loaded with organic compounds including polyphenols, flavanols & catechins, all of which function as antioxidants. For this reason, studies have suggested that it is one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet.
Other studies have found that dark chocolate may improve brain function, protect your skin against the sun, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
When choosing a dark chocolate, it is important to opt for one that has only little added sugar but a high percentage of cacao solids, if you want to reap all of the health benefits it has to offer. Since dark chocolate is super delicious, it can be very addictive, so eating it mindfully and in moderation is crucial.
4. Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon is fairly high in calories, whilst also providing you with significant amounts of protein. A 3 ounce (85 g) serving of salmon has 175 calories, 19 g of protein and is also a source of the B vitamins. Other nutritious types of fatty fish include mackerel, tuna and herring.
Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote overall good health. Because of the over-consumption of foods such as vegetable oil in the modern diet, people tend to have an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (with omega-6 being predominant), which can lead to health issues. Eating omega-3 rich foods such as fatty fish helps to restore this balance.
If your budget allows, opt for fish that has been wild caught over the farmed variety.
5. Coconut & olive oil
High quality varieties of these oils are obtained by cold pressing coconuts and olives. Their calorie content is fairly similar; a 1 tablespoon (13.6 g) serving of coconut oil has 117 calories and a 1 tablespoon serving of olive oil has 119 calories.
Coconut oil has a high smoking point which makes it one of the best types of fat to use when cooking. It is solid at room temperature, but can be liquefied when heated gently. Coconut oil has been eaten for a very long time by humans and brings with it powerful medicinal properties.
Studies have shown that populations who eat a lot of coconut oil are healthy. It can kill harmful organisms, reduce hunger & inflammation and improve blood cholesterol levels. It can also help with fat loss, especially the harmful kind found in the abdominal cavity.
Olive oil is also healthy. It is rich in antioxidants, protects against heart disease, has beneficial effects on brain function and may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It is important to choose high quality coconut and olive oil. Opt for the ‘extra virgin’ type as this is the healthiest kind; it may be a bit more expensive but is definitely worth it.
6. Quinoa, beans, brown rice, oats & lentils
These foods are generally high in protein, fiber and carbohydrates but unlike most of the foods in this list, they are fairly low in fat. However they are still quite high in calories when compared to other types of food. A cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) has 222 calories whereas a cup of cooked lentils (198 g) has 230 calories.
All of these foods are highly nutritious and are chock-full of various vitamins & minerals. They are also very filling, thanks to the fiber and protein in them. Quinoa has all essential amino acids, making it a great choice for vegetarians & vegans.
All of these foods have a fairly low glycemic index and they are easy to incorporate into the diet. It is important to note that some of them, especially beans, need to be soaked and cooked at high temperatures in order to get rid of the anti-nutrients and toxins found in them.
7. Dried fruits
The common ones are dates, raisins & prunes, however most dried fruits including apricots, cherries & apples are high in calories. 1 pitted medjool date (24 g) has 66 calories whereas a 1 ounce serving of prunes has 67 calories.
Dried fruit is prepared by (you guessed it!) drying fleshy fruit under the sun, or some other heat source, until most of the water has evaporated away. For this reason, it retains many of the nutrients found in ordinary fruit. Dried fruit generally tends to be high in fiber and antioxidants.
Raisins are made by drying grapes. Studies have shown that eating them may lower blood pressure, decrease inflammatory markers and increase feelings of fullness. Prunes are well known for their laxative effects and can improve the movement of stools. Dates are vert sweet and are an excellent replacement for candy.
Studies such as this and this seem to suggest that dried fruits have a low to medium glycemic index (GI) value, which means that they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels if eaten in moderation.
Like dark chocolate, it is very easy to overindulge in dried fruit, so it is vital that you eat it in small amounts. Also, stay away from sugar coated dried fruit as this type is definitely not healthy.
There are many types of high calorie foods available that are bursting in nutrients and bring with them lots of health benefits. The amount of these foods that you should eat will depend on your daily calorie requirements.