These foods come with more calories, more nutrients, and more health benefits.

Deciding if a food is “worth eating” depends on a few factors

Portrait of the beautiful girl eating chocolate cookies isolated on gray background.Sasa Prudkov/Shutterstock

What you eat should be based on personal health goals and taste preferences, not just how many calories there are in something. According to Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, if weight maintenance or loss is a goal, then staying within an appropriate calorie range is important. “But even in a well-balanced and proportioned daily diet, there is certainly room to enjoy favorite treats, high-calorie or otherwise,” she says. Balancing both an appropriate calorie range and nutrient needs for overall health is a delicate dance. Ali Webster, PhD, RD, associate director of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, adds that people should look at the context of their entire diet to make the best choices. Here are some healthy foods you shouldn’t be afraid to eat because of the calories. 

Nuts and nut butter

smooth peanut butter in dishneil langan/Shutterstock

Foods like nuts that are higher in fat tend to be higher in calories. One gram of fat is nine calories while one gram of protein or carbohydrate is only four calories, according to Malkani. Both nuts and nut butter are great, health-promoting options because they are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, Malkani says. Webster adds that the healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats in nuts and seeds are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, too. Their protein content makes people feel full after eating them, unlike calorie-dense but nutrient-poor snacks like chips and cookies. This might be why studies show more frequent nut intake is associated with weight loss and weight gain prevention. Here are 30 more tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.

Calories: Around 85-100 calories per serving depending on the nut type

Buy now

Avocados

A ripe avocado fruit on a rustic table, closeup, top viewGANNA MARTYSHEVA/Shutterstock

These fruits are trendy, tasty, high-calorie nutrition powerhouses. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which makes them higher in calories than other fruits, Malkani says. Webster adds that they’re also a good source of copper, folate, fiber, and vitamin K. Plus, the fat in avocados serves as a “nutrient-booster” that helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, according to Malkani and Webster.

Calories: About 240 calories per avocado

Buy now