5 Fats to Add to Your Diet

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5 Fats to Add to Your Diet

Just say yes to fats! If you’re a little skeptical about adding calorie-rich fats to your food, you’re not alone. After decades of being told to cut it from our diets, most Americans are still warming up to the idea that certain fats can actually be good for you.

A study published last year in The Journal of the American Medicine Association revealed that decades of research linking sugar to heart disease and weight gain was quietly downplayed, shifting the blame to dietary fat instead. Despite a surge in the popularity of low-fat versions of cookies, crackers, dairy products and the like, our waistlines refused to budge. In fact, we saw an alarming rise in obesity.

Thanks to researchers at the University of Bergen, a new study is challenging the notion that all saturated fats are unhealthy. We’re ready to rediscover our love for satisfying, flavorful foods that have the added bonuses of heart healthy fats, antioxidants, and nutrients.

Fats play a vital role in the body, from helping to carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K through the bloodstream, to insulating and providing protective padding to internal organs, to helping build brain tissue. Without an adequate fat supply, your body and brain simply couldn’t keep up (and ain’t nobody got time for that). But as with anything else, moderation is key. Use these fats mindfully to be able to reap their benefits!

Read on to learn about five of our favorite fats to add to your diet.

OLIVE OIL

Possibly the most popular and widely recognized “healthy” kitchen oil, olive oil is a diet staple in many cultures along the Mediterranean Sea. It is rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) which are said to help lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Olive oil also contains high amounts of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage. Depending on the grade of olive oil, it can be mild to very flavorful, making it a great pick for salad dressings and pesto. Its moderately high smoke point (the temperature at which it starts to smoke, break down and taste burned) of 320–420°F makes it ideal for all-purpose cooking.

AVOCADO OIL

Avocado oil contains an abundant amount heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. And while avocados contain saturated fat, studies have shown that they may contribute to lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while raising “good” (HDL) cholesterol. This oil is neutral in flavor, so it can be used in virtually any cuisine. With its high smoke point of 520°F, it can be used for searing, sautéing and other high-temperature cooking.

COCONUT OIL

In recent years, coconut oil has been appearing on supermarket shelves across the country, but it has been a long-time staple of tropical cultures across the globe. While coconut oil is 92% saturated fats, most of those fats are medium-chain fatty acids used directly in the body to produce energy. And while too much saturated fat usually raises LDL cholesterol, coconut oil seems to be especially effective at boosting HDL cholesterol levels. Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, you can experiment with using it in place of butter or shortening in baking. It has a medium smoke point of 350°F, so it is not suitable for high-temperature cooking but can also be melted and used as a base for sauces and confections.

GHEE (CLARIFIED BUTTER)

Ghee has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, and it has been the cooking oil of choice in India since ancient times. Regular butter is heated until the milk solids separate, leaving the clarified butter fat (ghee), making it suitable for those with sensitivity to casein and lactose. It also allows storage at room temperature for an extended period of time. Ghee contains butyrate, an essential short-chain fatty acid, and it is rich in vitamin A. With a relatively high smoke point of 485°F, ghee is great for sautéing or can be used to add a rich, buttery flavor to steamed vegetables, sauces and popcorn.

FLAXSEED OIL

Also known as linseed oil, this fat contains high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, a compound linked to a reduction in the incidence of heart disease. It oxidizes fairly quickly, so it should be kept under refrigeration, and it should be purchased only when packaged in opaque containers that are kept in refrigerated sections at the market. (It should have a pleasant, nutty flavor). Its extremely low smoke point of 225°F makes it unsuitable for cooking, but you can add this to cold foods, like as the base oil for a vinaigrette, or drizzle on food after cooking to get the most out of it.

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  • Debbie

    I’ve read that newer studies show that coconut oil isn’t as good for you as once thought. I’ve never bought it… just never quite was sure about the hype. More studies probably need to be done.

    • Jamie

      I was very skeptical of the hype as well, my brother being a health store manager and constantly telling me to eat coconut oil for its MCT benefits.
      2 years ago I went in for a blood test, my triglycerides were in the high 700s, extremely high LDL, and very poor HDL. I was 33, 5’0 and 226lbs.
      With nothing to lose, I started eating it. 9 months later they ran another blood test. All cholesterols were normal, blood sugars came down a few points, and I was 26lbs lighter. I did not exercise or do anything physically different. I cut out all vegetable/soy oils and replaced them with coconut and raw avocado oils. I continue to freely eat coconut oil, adding a teaspoon or tablespoon to soup, chili, beans…etc. I am down to 186, I feel normal (was living with chronic pain, extreme fatigue, & hypothyroid) for the first time since my early 20’s. I now have enough energy to exercise, and continue a slow but steady progress toward my goal!

      • Gio

        I’m from a tropical island and we use coconut oil more for things that are meant to be sweet. Like cakes. Shoot, I use it for pancakes and french toast instead of butter.

        But everything is in poportions. Having too much of something is very unhealthy.

    • PENNY

      Its plant based…You can’t go wrong

      • black tooth grin

        strychnine is plant based

        • stig

          Thank you for picking up on this fallacy to nature. A huge number of ‘natural’ things are deadly. In the same way, all man made things are comprised of chemicals and, as such, are natural.

          • black tooth grin

            A+B does not always =C, organic+plant based=safe will get you killed in a lot of wooded areas. Mushrooms being another example. Plus, not all man-made things are dangerous, the may not be ideal, but I will gladly drink bpa-laced water from a plastic bottle sitting in the sun, than go thirsty and die. Idealism can be very dangerous and confining.

  • Myla Mercer

    I think that coconut oil has some of the best benefits overall, but will try all of these thanks!

  • Smashster7

    When will MFP create a way to differentiate the healthier fats when logging? This would be a nice upgrade when logging foods!

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    • Marco Nanto

      When? At about the same time they’ll add Vitamin D and Magnesium. IOW, never. 🙁

  • Charlotte MacElderry Gibson

    I have a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee everyday. I cut out sugar and heavy carbs and my doctor was amazed at my cholesterol levels and how they improved. I’ve been following a ketogenic diet.

    • jacqueline.burton

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    • Jelissa roman

      Good day, i also started the ketogenic diet i follow the book from Maria Emmerich. Out of curiosity what carbs do you eat. So far with following the book i have not eaten carbs in two weeks. I’m just wondering if is a possibility to stay off the carbs for so long?

      • Tcook

        I take 20 carbs a day and have lost 62 pounds in a year

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  • Rose Pal

    What about Grapeseed Oil?

  • Brenda Yuhu

    What about 10W30 motor oil?

    • black tooth grin

      depends on age, older engines might do better with a little more weight

  • black tooth grin

    To label LDL as “bad” is a bit off, LDL is a hormonal precursor for testosterone and also have anti microbial properties, hence it’s levels rising in a body with a cold or flu. I am not a Dr., just saying people need to research this stuff. Total cholesterol and triglycerides are the most important measures.

    • Bruce Spencer

      Total cholesterol is kinda of a bogus measurement also. Its made up of LDL+HDL+(triglycerides/5). HDL has never been proven to be bad, and if you say LDL isn’t necessarily bad then the only figure in the equation that matters is triglycerides and they divide that number by 5.

      I do agree that to say LDL is bad is too general of a statement, because it is. LDL isn’t very relevant without a particle test and most doctors don’t order that test when ordering a lipid panel.

      Plain and simple everyone agrees that lower triglycerides is better than higher, there are differen’t ratios you can figure and from what I have seen HDL : triglycerides is the best measure of cardiovascular health.

      • black tooth grin

        Fair deduction, like I said I am not a Dr.(I’m not even qualified to be one on TV). I just think things of this nature go deeper than a lot of these articles insinuate, people(me included) tend to take bits and pieces and create a conclusion that appeals to their cognitive bias.

  • Talya Solomon

    I know fats are healthy but unfortunately there very low volume and high in calories so its aften too tempting to use water in my no stick pans and skip them .

  • Bruce Spencer

    Like most things out there it depends on who you ask. Similar to vegetable oil it is high in Omega 6 which is not a great thing.