Now Trending: Alternative Healthy Fats

The words “healthy” and “fats” were rarely found together not too long ago. Thankfully, now they regularly hang out together, and our bodies are thrilled that they do. Of course, the operative word is “healthy,” so let’s take a minute to review the bad fats and catch up on what’s trending with the good ones.

Oils such as vegetable, soybean, safflower, corn and canola are chemically refined under high heat, stripping them of nutrients and taste. Replace them with extra virgin olive oil and unrefined coconut oil. Industrial-made trans fats are commonly found in baked goods, fried foods and sweets. Instead, cook at home and switch from margarine and shortening to grass-fed butter, coconut milk and cream, red palm and coconut oil blend shortening, nut and seed butter, and cacao butter. Several of these good fats are trending in the marketplace right now.

Oat is the new almond milk. Nut butter is making more room on the shelf for seed butter. MCT oil (“MCT” stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a component of coconut oil) in powdered form is showing up in snack foods, and on its own, it’s handy for mixing into hot and cold beverages without needing a blender.

An ingredient popularized in butter coffee recipes, MCT liquid oil has a few obstacles that the powdered form overcomes. Digestive issues commonly associated with liquid MCT oil should not pose a problem with the oil powder. (When first using the liquid form, start slowly by ingesting one teaspoon per day and building up to one or two tablespoons per day over several weeks.) Liquid oil portability is a drawback—the liquid form is risky to pack and take on the go, while the powdered form is a breeze. A blender and solid fat, such as butter, is needed to emulsify the liquid oil while the oil powder mixes in hot and cold liquids equally well with a spoon. Carefully read the labels on the MCT oil powder container to check for additives you may or may not object to and to be sure it’s gluten-free.

Relatively new to the U.S., Oatly is a 20-year-old Swedish company whose oat milk gained popularity after hitting the shelves at Whole Foods. Other brands have followed the trend and are readily available in grocery and health food stores. Matched against almond milk, oat milk averages twice the calorie, fat, carbohydrate and protein count, and one-third the amount of sodium. Compare oat milk brands to find the one that suits you best. Use it in place of other non-dairy milk in your recipes, coffee, tea and smoothies. 

Although tahini (sesame seed butter) has a centuries-old history, it’s showing up in a variety of foods right now—smoothies, cookies and ice cream, to name a few. Sesame seeds are packed with potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, health-promoting fat and fiber. Try your hand at making tahini by toasting two cups of sesame seeds in a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat for just a few minutes. Stir constantly while the seeds toast to a light golden color. Keep a close watch; they can swiftly turn from golden to burnt!

It’s time to get cooking with the following healthy fat recipes. Trendy never tasted so good!

Blueberry Oat Milk Smoothie

Blueberry-Oat Milk Smoothie

Tahini-Cardamom Ice Cream with a Salted Caramel Ribbon

Tahini-Cardamom Ice Cream with a Salted Caramel Ribbon

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Granola Bars

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Granola Bars


Susan Ojanen is a freelance food and travel writer, and a certified integrative nutrition and intrinsic health coach in private practice at smallstepswellness.com in Bristol, Tennessee. She educates and supports clients in building healthy new habits for maintainable lifestyle changes.

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