We’ve always been told to eat less fat — the evil root of heart disease, high cholesterol and other types of health maladies. But the truth is, you should probably be eating more fat. In fact, recent scientific studies have shown that saturated fat is an essential part of a healthy diet and may actually be responsible for a cornucopia of health benefits. With that in mind, here are 10 fatty (and healthy!) foods that should be incorporated into your diet.
Strengthen Your Brain With Salmon
Did you know that the human brain is comprised of about 60 per cent fat? In fact, a diet that’s too low in fat can actually rob the brain of much-needed nutrients. And it’s not just the “good” fats such as omega-3 (found in such foods as avocados and salmon), but “bad” saturated fats, including natural animal fats, that promote brain health. As it turns out, vitamins A, D, E and K are not water soluble and need fat to be absorbed by the body. Research suggests that saturated fats can actually play a role in reducing the risk of dementia.
Replenish Your Skin With Avocados
The walls of your skin cells are made of fat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a diet rich in fat can replenish skin cells, promoting skin that looks younger. A Japanese study found that intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats appeared to increase skin elasticity. One of the best skin-care regimes you can undertake is to eat lots of avocados, which will contribute to keeping skin looking smooth and supple.
Strengthen Bones With Yogurt Smoothies
As we hit middle age, our bone mass begins to decline. Most of us know that calcium is key to keeping bones strong, but did you know saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively absorbed into bones? In fact, some scientists say women trying to maintain bone health and stave off osteoporosis should eat a diet as high as 50 per cent saturated fats. A great source of both fat and calcium is full-fat yogurt, which can be even tastier when combined with fruit in a smoothie.
Keep Lungs Healthy With Beef
Did you know your lungs are coated with a substance made up almost entirely of fat? Without enough saturated fat in our diets, our lungs can actually weaken. In fact, studies have shown a correlation between asthma and a diet low in saturated fats. One delicious — and carnivorous — way to ensure you ingest the necessary saturated fat to keep lungs healthy is grass-fed beef, or a really nice, marbled ribeye steak.
Keep Your Heart Ticking With Trout
Remember how a diet high in saturated fats was supposed to be a one-way ticket to a triple bypass? Researchers are now finding that saturated fats from sources such as coconut oil and butter can actually promote heart health and keep the ticker ticking. Though controversial, everyone seems to agree we should all stay away from trans-fats, which are both unnatural and unhealthy, while monounsaturated fat (present in nuts, avocados and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fat (found in fatty fish, such as salmon and trout) are best.
Eat Walnuts to Reduce Risk of Stroke
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish have been found to reduce the risk of stroke. As if that weren’t enough, some studies claim that a diet higher in saturated fat than a low-fat diet can actually reduce the risk of suffering a stroke by more than 30 percent, and can also lower the risk of heart disease. One food you should make a dietary staple is walnuts, which are loaded with omega-3’s.
Boost Your Immune System With a Burger
The kind of saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (remember how those were supposed to be “bad” for us?) actually play a key role in keeping the immune system strong. If there aren’t enough saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells it can impede the cells’ ability to recognize and destroy viruses, bacteria and other bodily invaders. A juicy hamburger will provide your body with an ample supply of saturated fats, but be sure to seek out grass-fed beef, which is five times higher in conjugated linoleic acid — an immune system enhancer — than grain-fed beef.
Improve Liver Function With Macadamia Nuts
One of the most common diseases is one that most people don’t even realize they have: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is present in more than 90 million Americans. However, it’s not saturated fat that leads to this ailment — it’s sugar. To keep your liver healthy, cut back on sugar and starch. Instead, indulge in foods such as fatty fish and macadamia nuts, which are loaded with liver-healing fats.
Try this recipe for Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
Lose Weight With Coconut Oil
Contrary to everything we’ve been told, eating more saturated fats can actually help you lose weight, not gain it — if the fat you add replaces carbohydrates, that is. Meanwhile, recent studies have found that supplementing your diet with high-fat coconut oil can significantly reduce abdominal obesity.