For decades the newspapers and TV broadcasts have been full of warnings about the dangers of eating fatty foods. We’ve been told to cut out bacon, eggs and butter – things that humans had happily lived on for millennia – in order to avoid a life cut short by heart disease and cancer. But you may be aware that the tide is turning – that fatty foods are now considered healthy. And it’s true. Highly fatty-foods do have an important place in a well-balanced diet.
The following 10 delicious fatty foods will improve your cholesterol quality, heart health, weight, metabolism and even cognitive function. Plus, they taste just great. This is the confirmation you’ve been waiting for.
NOTE: If you are planning on changing your diet considerably, or you are concerned at the levels of fat you consume please consult your doctor.
Embrace the Fat
There are different types of fat, some with a better reputation than others. Poly and monounsaturated fats, such as what you find in olive oil, avocados and nuts, are frequently lauded as ‘good fats’, as is Omega-3, which is found in fatty fish such as sardines and salmon. Yet it’s now becoming commonplace to hear doctors and nutritionists recommend even saturated fats as part of a balanced diet.
Not only is fat increasingly seen as ‘not bad’, it’s also been found to have actual health benefits. Whole, unprocessed foods with high amounts of saturated fat help to improve your:
• Cholesterol quality
• Cognitive function
Furthermore, naturally fatty whole foods are often full of other healthy nutrients like vitamin K2 and choline, which are not easy to find in other foods. That’s why some nutritionists, like Katie Shields, are claiming that ‘fat is where it’s at!’
REMEMBER: Don’t Eat Only Fatty Foods
The following fatty foods should be eaten as part of a balanced diet. You can have too much of a good thing, after all.
1. Butter (from grass-fed cows)
Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD, says that butter is much healthier than we have been led to believe. Butter contains high amounts of vitamin K2, which is necessary for helping our body use calcium properly in our bones. Furthermore, saturated fat rich butter is healthier than the omega-6 polyunsaturated fats of butter substitutes like margarine that utilize vegetable and seed oils.
Buttering up your veggies really makes them taste wonderful and lets you absorb their nutrients better too.
Schoenfeld also finds that egg yolks have been misunderstood and under appreciated too. She recommends that people eat 2 to 3 eggs a day, not only because of their fabulous flavor, but also because they are rich sources of vitamin A, Choline, B vitamins, selenium, and the antioxidants, vitamin D and carotenoids. And all of this goodness comes from the yolks!
That’s why you should forget about egg-white omelets and salads and ‘embrace the yolks’.
3. Bacon (from pasture-raised pigs)
Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE, advises that pasture-raised bacon, when free of nitrites, growth hormones and antibiotics, provide more nourishment than regular bacon. This meat is rich in choline, a vital nutrient that has been associated with fighting off Alzheimer’s and related chronic mental impairments. Bacon can even make you happier, thanks to the B vitamins and zinc that help you produce anxiety reducing serotonin.
4. Cocoa Butter
Miller reports that cocoa butter (theobroma oil) contains antioxidants and omega-9 fatty acids that can help provide balanced hormones and support your immune system function. You can add cocoa oil to your coffee, smoothie, or even homemade energy bars.
Avocado is a marvelously healthy fruit. Being a source of omega-9 oleic acid, Avocados are great for your skin and hormone balance, as well as being fibrous digestion promoters. Their B vitamin content is good for improving stress response and even fertility. They also contain electrolytes, making avocado a great snack for getting your energy levels back post workout.
So, you can enjoy that bacon and avocado sandwich without your doctor complaining, according to Miller.
Most chocolate is indeed riddled with sugar, and contains little cocoa solids. But you should be able to find the right kind of dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa, which can give you the 200 mg of flavanol antioxidants necessary for both improving blood flow and improving heart health.
Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, adds a dash of cocoa powder to her morning cereal and eats 150 calories worth of dark chocolate after lunch, in order to protect her heart (she has a family history of heart disease).
Nuts, full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, offer some fabulous health benefits, when eaten in moderation. McDaniel suggests around one serving a day (150-200 calories) for the following results:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Healthier heart
• Decreased metabolic syndrome
• Alzheimer’s prevention
• Memory boost
• Reduced depression
Adding a tablespoon of flax and chia seeds to your oatmeal or smoothie is a great way to boost your omega-3 intake, supporting your body’s anti-inflammatory efforts. Though fish are a better source for Omega-3, McDaniel says that flax and chia also offer other benefits, such as lignans, which lower cholesterol, and they also have a high fiber content.
9. Full-Fat Milk and Dairy
It’s far from proven that skimmed milk offers any advantage over full-cream dairy, since milk’s fat interacts well with its other nutrients, such as vitamin D and potassium. These nutrients are perfect for increasing heart health, regulating blood pressure and insulin levels, according to McDaniel. For those who eat a limited amount of meat, milk is a great way to make sure their body is getting enough saturated fat.
Furthermore, recent studies don’t show any enhanced risk of stroke, heart disease or cardiovascular disease related to dairy.
10. Coconut Butter
Coconut butter is made from coconut meat puree and coconut oil, blended together. It thus contains all of coconut oils’ nutrients, like the triglycerides which protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. Coconut butter makes a great toast topping, or sweet addition to your oatmeal breakfast.