The Best 13 Healthy Vegan Fats To Lower Cholesterol

Are you considering incorporating more healthy fats into your diet?

That’s great! But it’s important to recognize that not all vegan fats are created equal.

In this blog post, I’ll delve into the world of nutritious and healthy vegan fats, guided by recommendations from me, a dietitian.

Below, you’ll find a carefully curated list of 13 top healthy vegan fats, complete with innovative recipe ideas for each, so you can start incorporating them today!

Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or simply looking to diversify your diet, these tips will help you make informed, delicious choices for your health.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Healthy Fats: Not all fats are bad; healthy vegan fats are essential for brain and heart health, energy absorption, cell health, and hormone production. Opt for unsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats for better health outcomes.
  • Types of Fats: Saturated and trans fats should be limited due to their negative impact on LDL cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Essential Fats: Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fats that must be obtained through diet. They play crucial roles in reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and contributing to heart health.
  • Top Healthy Vegan Fats: A dietitian recommends 13 healthy vegan fat sources, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, nut butters, seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, olive oil, olives, soy products, tahini, and vegan mayo. Recipes and creative ways to incorporate these fats into meals are provided. Additionally, swaps are suggested to help transition to a diet rich in healthy vegan fats.

What Are Healthy Fats?

You may have heard that all dietary fat is bad for you and should be avoided, however, this is not true. There are different types of fat in our food system, and eating more healthy fat is important.

Our bodies need healthy vegan fats to support our brain and heart health. It is also crucial for energy absorption, cell health, hormone production and satiety.

That being said, it’s important to choose healthy unsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats for optimal health. 

Don’t worry, by the end of this article you will understand the differences between healthy and unhealthy fats and will be able to use some of the provided recipes to incorporate more of the healthy fats into your diet!

Three Main Types Of Fats That We Will Differentiate Between Are:

  • saturated fat
  • trans fat
  • unsaturated fat

The differences between these types of fats have to do with their chemical structures, and the way they impact our health.

First, we will talk about saturated fats. Saturated fats should be limited because they can contribute to increased LDL cholesterol levels.

LDL cholesterol is referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can cause a buildup to form in your arteries. This buildup is called atherosclerosis and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Saturated fats are found in animal products like red meats, butter, deli meat and cheese, as well as in baked goods and highly processed foods.

Next, we will talk about trans fats. Like saturated fats, trans fats should also be limited. Trans fats are created by hydrogenating (adding hydrogen) to vegetable oil to make it more solid and increase the shelf life of products (1). These trans fats can also increase LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stent, PAD and stroke (2).

Trans fats are found in fried foods like donuts, pizza, and French fries. These are foods to avoid.

Now, we have saved the best for last – unsaturated fats. These fats can be broken down into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Both of these types of unsaturated fats are the healthy fats that we should be eating more of.

Unsaturated fats can do the opposite of saturated and trans fats, and lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the overall risk of heart disease and stroke (3).

The 13 healthy vegan fats given later in the article are all great examples of foods with unsaturated fat!

What Fats Should You Eat To Manage Cholesterol?

As I mentioned above, unsaturated fats are the fats that you should eat as they play an important role in managing cholesterol.

Not only will unsaturated fats help to decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol, but they will also help to increase levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels by transporting LDL cholesterol to the liver, where it will be broken down. This removes it from the arteries which, as you can probably imagine, will help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you try to replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats in your diet. Thus, you don’t need to remove all fat from your diet, but you want to prioritise eating unsaturated fats.

What Are Essential Fats?

When we refer to a nutrient as being essential, this means that we must consume it through the foods that we eat. This is because the body is not able to make enough, or any, of the essential nutrients for itself.

There are two types of unsaturated fats that are essential that we need to include in our diets: omega-3 and omega-6.

We need omega-3 for our cells and hormones. It also plays a role in reducing inflammation and contributes to heart health by lowering blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart disease (4)

Omega 3 fats are an essential fat, which means you need to consume them in your diet. They are often found in animal foods like cold water oily fish, like atlantic vs. pacific salmon, but there are other plant based fats discussed below you can consume instead.

Omega-6 contributes to heart health by playing a role in reducing LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL cholesterol, and helping to regulate blood sugar (5)

An infographic with images of olive oil, nuts, hemp and chia seeds. The title is understanding healthy fats.

Image of Veronica Rouse with Free 7 day heart healthy meal plan freebie.

Dietitian’s Top 13 Healthy Vegan Fats

Below I have included a list of 13 healthy vegan fats recommended by a dietitian, and recipe ideas for each!

Some other nutrients in a vegan diet to keep an eye out for that will be mentioned in regards to heart health include soluble fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol by binding to it in the digestive tract and preventing it from entering the bloodstream (6).

Calcium, potassium and magnesium are important parts of the DASH diet, and they play a role in heart health since they are needed for proper contraction and relaxation of muscles, and in case you didn’t know, the heart and blood vessels are muscles! 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a staple in a plant-based diet. They contain plant-based omega-3 fats (called alpha-linolenic acid) which are essential fatty acids and are also high in soluble fiber, which both contribute to heart health and may lower the risk of heart disease.

Chia seeds also contain other nutrients including calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1 and B3 (7).

Chia seeds make a great addition to smoothies to lower cholesterol, oat recipes or yogurt! You can also check out this chia banana bread for a sweet way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet.

Chia seed banana bread on a wooden cutting board, sliced and topped with walnuts.
Chia Banana Bread


Like chia seeds, flaxseeds contain omega-3, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. They also contain antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation. Check out this super easy flaxseed pudding recipe, a perfect breakfast on a vegetarian diet. This recipe only requires two ingredients and makes a great heart healthy breakfast!

banana walnut flaxseed pudding in mason jar
Flaxseed Pudding


Nuts are a great source of unsaturated fat and vegan protein. They can be used in a variety of ways, like in your banana bread, as toppings in yogurt, oat bran, or rolled oats. They can also be eaten on their own as a heart-healthy, filling snack.

Banana prune bread on a cooling rack with the end sliced. Next to the banana bread loaf is a small dish with walnuts.
Prune Banana Bread

Nut Butters

Like nuts, nut butters also offer unsaturated fats and are incredibly versatile. Some examples include peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter.

They can be added to heart healthy smoothie recipes or used as a topping on your favorite heart healthy bread like this avocado peanut butter toast. You can also check out this recipe for almond flour energy balls which include both almond butter and almond flour!

A white plate with gold trim with almond flour energy balls on it. There is a white towel next to the plate.
Almond Flour Energy Balls


Some common examples of seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

These can all make great additions to creamy oatmeal, beet and broccoli salad or even DASH smoothies! For example, pumpkin seeds are featured in this Mediterranean diet oatmeal recipe. Seeds can be a great source of unsaturated fat, fiber, and other Mediterranean and DASH diet nutrients including magnesium, and potassium, which all play a role in heart health.

Mediterranean diet oatmeal in a yellow bowl, topped with strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Around the bowl are more scattered strawberries and pumpkin seeds.
Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal

Seed Butters

A seed butter can be found for pretty much any seed you can think of, and often you can even find seed butters that contain a blend of multiple types of seeds or even nuts.

Seed butters can be used in the same way you use nut butters like peanut butter or almond butter, which were mentioned in some examples above.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, omega-6 and omega-3 – all heart-healthy nutrients! These seeds are also a great source of vegan protein. They can be added to baked goods like this banana ricotta bread, smoothies in hemp protein powder form, yogurt or low sodium oatmeal.

Microwave Egg White Oatmeal in a yellow bowl surrounded by oats, raisin and walnuts on a white countertop
Low Sodium Oatmeal


Avocados are an excellent source of many nutrients including protein, omega-3 and fiber! Avocado can be added to avocado toast, salads, dips or can be added into smoothies like this avocado smoothie, which contains another healthy fat – peanut butter!

Brown Smoothie in Mason Jar Surrounded by Avocado and Oats
Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is mainly monounsaturated fatty acids, and is a staple in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.  It is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet that can prevent and manage cardiovascular disease. It is a great source of unsaturated fat, and also contains antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin K and polyphenols, which can all play a role in lowering blood pressure.

Extra virgin olive oil can be used in many different ways and is encouraged to be used as your main cooking oils, and use it when heating vegetables or meat, you can also use it in salad dressings, soups or pasta!

Extra virgin olive oil has other health benefits as it can lower blood pressure, and support brain health.

Also check out these healthy substitutes for olive oil.

Kale apple slaw presented on a white plate beside a bunch of kale.
Kale Apple Slaw


Just like olive oil, olives contain unsaturated fat, vitamin E, vitamin K and polyphenols. Just be mindful that olives can contain high amounts of sodium since they are usually in a salty brine.

Olives can be eaten on their own, added onto sandwiches, wraps, salads, or enjoyed as a pizza topping! 

An image of pizza on top of a wooden cutting board. The pizza is topped with sauce, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese.
Low Cholesterol Pizza


Soy products originate from soybeans but exist in many forms. Some common examples include tofu and soy milk. Soy is an excellent source of vegan protein and unsaturated fat. Soy products may help to lower LDL cholesterol, contributing to heart health (8).

Tofu can be used in tofu scramble, as tofu cream cheese or pastas to replace meat. For example, this tofu bolognese recipe uses tofu to replace the meat which is typically used in bolognese sauce.

Soy milk can be used to replace milk in recipes. You can use it in smoothies, on top of cereal or in oats like in this blueberry cheesecake overnight oats recipe.

Blueberry cheesecake overnight oats tipped on side with blueberries and oats falling out on a wood board beside a bowl of blueberries.
Blueberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats


Tahini is made from sesame seeds, and can be used on its own as a dip or spread but is also a key ingredient in other foods like hummus. Sesame seeds are a good source of fiber and unsaturated fat, and have been associated with potentially lowering LDL cholesterol (9).

Check out this hummus with red kidney beans recipe for a twist on the traditional hummus made with chickpeas.

An image of hummus with kidney beans in a glass dish, topped with beans and olive oil.
Kidney Bean Hummus

Vegan Mayo

The homemade vegan mayo recipe included in this article offers a heart-healthy alternative to mayo that is typically high in sodium and may include saturated fat depending on the vegetable oils used.

Instead, this vegan mayo is made using sources of unsaturated fat including tofu and avocado oil, which make it heart-healthy!

Salmon salad sandwich with low sodium mayonnaise displayed in a mason jar beside the sandwich on a brown plate.
Low Sodium Mayonnaise

Be Careful With Coconut Oil

You may be surprised to hear that coconut oil actually consists of mostly saturated fat (like butter!).

Although it is a popular ingredient in many recipes, you should be careful with how much you consume.  Since its saturated fat content may actually raise LDL cholesterol levels, try only using small amounts (10). Therefore, consuming too much coconut oil may increase the risk of heart disease.

10 Swaps To Start Eating More Healthy Vegan Fats

Here is a list of some easy swaps you can make to eat more healthy vegan fats:

  • Cook with olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter or coconut oil
  • Make your own salad dressings that contain olive oil instead of using store-bought dressings
  • Use nut butters or seed butters on toast or bagels instead of butter or cream cheese
  • Use homemade vegan mayo instead of store bought mayo
  • Add seeds (chia, hemp, flax etc.) to smoothies, yogurt or oat recipes
  • Replace milk with an alternative like soy milk or almond milk
  • Snack on nuts instead of chips or crackers
  • Incorporate avocados into your meals, by adding them to salads, sandwiches or even guacamole
  • Use olives or olive tapenade to your dishes for a burst of flavor and healthy fats
  • Combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice and herbs for a creamy flavorful sauce full of healthy fat

Other Vegan Recipes

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many heart-healthy vegan fats to choose from in a balanced diet! Hopefully you now understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and can use some of the recipes mentioned throughout this article to incorporate more of the top 13 healthy vegan fats into your own heart-healthy diet!

Tell me in the comments, what is your favorite healthy vegan fat, and how do you use it?

An image of Veronica The Heart Dietitian cutting an apple, and an image of a book. The text on the image and book reads "FREE 4 steps to a happy heart without restriction ebook".

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