7 Fatty Foods With Health Benefits

For years you’ve heard that eating saturated fat is like pouring superglue into your arteries. But the fact is, this forbidden fat actually increases your HDL (good) cholesterol, which helps remove plaque from your artery walls, decreasing your risk of heart disease.

So quit depriving yourself and start eating these seven foods—without guilt.

Beef

Most people consider turkey, chicken, and fish healthy, yet think they should avoid red meat—or only choose very lean cuts—since they’ve always been told that it’s high in saturated fat.

But there are two problems in that thinking. The first problem is that almost half of the fat in beef is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid—the same heart-healthy fat that’s found in olive oil. Second, most of the saturated fat in beef actually decreases your heart-disease risk—either by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, or by reducing your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol.

And besides being one of the most available sources of high-quality protein, beef also provides many important nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. So the idea that beef is bad for you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Poultry

We probably don’t have to sell you on the virtues of chicken and turkey. After all, nearly all experts agree that these foods are healthy sources of high-quality protein.

But unlike most nutritionists, we also say go ahead and eat both the dark meat and the skin. Because both are composed of animal fat, their fat composition is very similar to that of beef. Meaning neither raises your risk for heart disease.

Remember, eating more fat—not less—is the key in helping you automatically reduce your calorie intake, without feeling deprived.

Eggs

Whole eggs contain more essential vitamins and minerals per calorie than virtually any other food. They’re also one of the best sources of choline, a substance your body requires to break down fat for energy. In addition, eggs provide lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.

Cheese

There are two main reasons that cheese is a great diet food:

1. It’s packed with protein and fat, which keep you full.

2. Cheese is versatile and convenient. You can eat it right out of a single-serving package—making it a great snack—or use as a dip or to add more flavor to almost any dish.

Butter

Butter contains a significant amount of saturated fat.  It’s animal fat, like the kind in beef, bacon, and chicken skin. This is a natural fat that men and women have eaten for thousands of years. Fat like that in butter, is necessary in order to help your body absorb many of the healthy nutrients found in vegetables.

For instance, without fat, your body can’t absorb carotenoids—powerful disease-fighting antioxidants found in colorful vegetables—or fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. So go ahead, eat butter, and do it without guilt.

Coconut

Ounce for ounce, coconut contains even more saturated fat than butter does. As a result, health experts have warned that it will clog your arteries. But even though coconut is packed with saturated fat, it too appears to have a beneficial effect on heart-disease risk factors.

One reason: More than 50 percent of its saturated-fat content is lauric acid. A recent analysis of 60 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Overall, this means it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sour Cream

For years, you’ve been told to avoid sour cream or to eat the light version. That’s because 90 percent of its calories are derived from fat, at least half of which is saturated.

Sure, the percentage of fat is high, but the total amount isn’t. Consider that a serving of sour cream is 2 tablespoons. That provides just 52 calories—half the amount that’s in a single tablespoon of mayonnaise—and less saturated fat than you’d get from drinking a 12-ounce glass of 2 percent reduced-fat milk.

More importantly, sour cream is a close relative of butter, which means you’re eating natural animal fat, not dangerous trans fat.

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