6 High-Calorie Healthy Foods to Enjoy in Small Amounts
On your journey to eating healthier, you’ll find that many so-called healthy food options — and even actual healthy foods — contain way more calories than you bargained for. High-calorie healthy foods may be better than their processed alternatives, but they can also trick you into thinking you’re eating healthier than you actually are.
It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that just because something is healthy, you can eat as much of it as you want without worrying about the consequences. Before you know it, you might even find you’ve consumed as many calories as you would have had you chosen an unhealthy snack, instead!
To help you avoid that calorie sticker shock, here are six high-calorie healthy foods you can still enjoy — but in small amounts.
Before you panic, know that avocados have insane amounts of nutritional value. They contain important vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and much more, and have been shown to provide a variety of health benefits.
However, one seven-ounce avocado also contains 322 calories. So while avocados are a great choice nutritionally, you’ll probably want to limit how many of them you eat at one time. In other words, stick to avocado toast instead of that big bowl of guac.
If you’ve swapped out sugary, carbonated drinks for fruit juice, you may think you’re already making healthier beverage choices. But even 100% juice with no added sugar is not as healthy for you as whole fruit.
Juice and soda actually contain similar amounts of calories, and multiple studies show they both increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even premature death. Plus, unlike fresh fruit, juice doesn’t have the necessary fiber to make you feel full, increasing your likelihood of consuming even more calories.
Nuts & Nut Butter
In contrast to fruit juice, nuts and nut butters are rich in fiber. They also tend to be high in protein and contain other important nutrients. But they’re also high in calories, with some of the most calorie-dense being macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts.
However, because of the fiber and protein content, nuts and nut butters will fill you up faster, which makes it easier to limit portions and cut down on those calories.
When you’re trying to satisfy your sweet tooth, dried fruit is better for you than candy, right? Well, yes, but you still need to be careful. Many dried fruits or fruit snacks contain added sugars, and even the ones that don’t are still rather high in calories.
Think of dried fruit as concentrated fruit. In one small bite, you get all of the fruit’s great nutrients, but you also get all of its calories. So if you’re eating your fruits dried instead of fresh, make sure to cut the serving size by at least half.
Olive & Coconut Oils
High-calorie healthy foods can sneak past you anywhere — even when you’re cooking something else entirely. While cooking with olive oil or coconut oil is certainly healthier than, say, butter, they both still contain about 120 calories per tablespoon.
That said, when it comes to your food, you don’t always want to sacrifice flavor to save a few calories. Opt for oils that aren’t as processed or refined — like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil — instead of hydrogenated oils for the greatest overall health benefits.
Like avocados, quinoa is one of those high-calorie healthy foods that’s packed with nutritional value. It’s extremely versatile, a great source of fiber, antioxidants, protein, and other nutrients, and a gluten-free grain alternative.
But keep in mind that one cup of cooked quinoa contains 222 calories, and that you probably won’t be eating it by itself. Calories can add up fast, even if you’re combining technically healthy foods.
Enjoy High-Calorie Healthy Foods in Moderation
The key to consuming high-calorie healthy foods is limiting just how much of them you consume in one sitting. For many of the above options, the nutritional benefits can outweigh the high calorie count as long as you aren’t overindulging.
For a snack that tastes like it's high in calories but has the health benefits of plant-based protein, try our PigOut Porkless Pork Rinds or our Outstanding Puffs. With 25 grams and 21 grams of protein, respectively, and no gluten, soy, or cholesterol, both snacks provide all of the pleasure with none of the high-calorie guilt.