10 High Fat Foods That Boost Health and Increase Longevity
Over the last three decades, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has placed restrictions on fat consumption in daily dietary requirements. However, in 2015, an Advisory Panel decided to remove dietary restrictions on fat. Now, for the first time ever, there are no restrictions on how much fat should be included in a healthy diet. The “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines” released in 2015, provide guidance for health professionals and policymakers on the development of nutrition policies and programs for the prevention of disease and the promotion of overall health and well-being.
These guidelines help health professionals introduce and promote healthy dietary practices to the general public by identifying the right combination of food and beverages towards a balanced and healthy diet.
A major change in the guidelines is on fat restriction. It has removed the cap on dietary cholesterol, which has been wrongfully-cited as a cause of heart disease for decades. Until recently the guidelines have limited dietary cholesterol to 300 mg a day (approximately two eggs).The guidelines now reflect recent findings in nutritional science, that good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are essential for optimal human health.
Why Fat Has A Bad Rap
Over the last four decades, the US agricultural industry has been dominated by corn production. Corn has been incorporated into almost 90% of commercial food products available. Everything from candy to batteries contains some form of corn, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a by-product of corn. Corn has also been used as animal feed which has resulted in negative health impacts among the animals and the people that consume the animals as food.
This abundance of corn led to a bias and skewing of the food pyramid toward carbohydrates as the primary macronutrient in the American diet, while fat was given the lowest placing (after proteins).
Decades later, Americans are suffering from health disorders and diseases such as obesity and diabetes. These negative health conditions are directly related to a diet consisting primarily of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. As nutritional science has advanced, new studies in fats and carbohydrates have discovered that refined carbohydrates actually increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase total triglyceride levels in the blood. This effect has a direct link to cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension. (2)
The Right Fat is Good for You
There have been interesting results from recent studies, circa 2000, into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The research proves that consuming these types of medium and long-chain triglycerides has a positive effect on many different areas of human health.
There are four different types of fat in your diet that you need to be aware of:
- Saturated Fat
- Trans-saturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Monounsaturated fat
The first two types of fat, saturated and trans-saturated fat are as bad for your health as sugar and refined carbohydrates. Fried foods, soda, and candy products are loaded with these empty calories that have no nutritional value. An ‘empty calorie’ can be defined as a calorie that has no nutritional benefit and these calories comprise the majority of today’s western diet.(3)
Sugar and saturated fats create inflammation in the gastro-intestinal tract (GI) further diminishing the ability of gut biomes to assimilate nutrients from food. This lowers metabolic function and reduces the efficiency of the immune system, exposing the body to infection and disease.
The second two types of fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are considered “good fats”. These improve lipid levels, dropping LDL and increasing HDL, as well as lower total triglycerides in the blood.
There is evidence to support consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, thus improving heart health and cardiovascular function. Consuming good fats also improves cognitive processes in the brain, and reduces levels of inflammation in the gut, allowing your gut biomes to effectively assimilate the nutrition in your food. (4)
10 High Fat Foods That Boost Health and Increase Longevity
Taking advantage of the health benefits of a diet rich in good fat sources is as simple as making a few lifestyle and dietary changes. Try to consider removing all of the bad fats and refined carbohydrates from your diet and replacing them with nutritious foods that are high in goods fats. Here is a quick list of ten foods to add to your diet that are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats:
100 grams of avocado contains 160 calories, of which 15 grams come from fat. The avocado is known as a “super fruit”, named so because of its rich fat content and healthy fat profile. Avocados contain 10 grams of monounsaturated fat per 100 grams and this fat adds a rich, creamy texture to the flavor of the avocado.
Avocados also contain plant-based antioxidants known as flavonoids that clear the blood of excess free-radicals. Free-radicals are detrimental to health, as they cause cell oxidation and cell death, resulting in declining levels of health and the development of negative health disorders such as kidney and liver disease.
Avocados are high in soluble dietary fiber, an important dietary requirement for a healthy GI tract. Along with the good fat, avocados are rich in vital minerals and vitamins. Avocados have more potassium than a banana and are also rich in vitamin C, B-6, and B-12. Avocados help you keep your bones and teeth health with calcium and magnesium.
Adding avocados to your diet is easy. Mash up a guacamole or slice it on top of whole grain, sprouted bread. For the adventurous, add it into a grilled cheese sandwich or throw it into the ingredients of a smoked salmon salad.
Cold-pressed avocado oil tastes great when drizzled on salads and roasted vegetables. It has a different flavor and smell to traditional olive oil. Remember to buy the cold-pressed variant, triglyceride chains are sensitive to high heat exposure and can easily turn rancid in the manufacturing process. (5)
Seeds make a fantastic snack when you are short on time and feeling hungry. There are so many different varieties of seeds available, try out a blended mix of pumpkin, chia, hemp, and sesame seeds. These seeds are rich in carotenoids, a plant-based antioxidant that clears free radicals.
Seeds are also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for optimal health. Omega-3 fatty acids improve cardiovascular health, as well as enhance neurological and cognitive function.
Seeds can be eaten raw as a trail mix, or lightly toasted and added to your favorite Caesar salad. They can also garnish your favorite smoothie or health drink.
3. Nuts & Nut Butter
Nuts and nut butter are loaded with good fats. Almonds, macadamias, cashews, walnuts, and pecans taste fantastic and can be eaten raw as trail mix, or crushed and blended into a butter. Organic, raw nut butters are one of the most nutrient-dense fat sources available.
Nut butter can be spread on toast or used in a variety of cooked dishes to add flavor to chicken or lamb. If all else fails, it also tastes great when simply eaten off the spoon. (6)
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an example of one of the rare forms of saturated fat that can be accepted as a superfood with beneficial health properties. Coconut oil is great for cooking as the triglyceride chains remain stable under applied heat. Use coconut oil in your cooking for a more exotic flavor in all of your dishes.
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat can in fact, eliminate heart disease risks. Some studies suggest that consuming approximately two tablespoons of olive oil on a daily basis could help reduce the risk of heart disease. (7)
To give this possible benefit, it adds, the olive oil must replace a similar amount of saturated fat in your diet — and must not increase the total calories you eat in a day.
Splash it on salads, dress it on steaks and smoothen pasta with generous helpings of cold-pressed organic olive oil. Olive oil has been accepted as the gold standard of healthy oils that have a host of benefits. Just make sure that you don’t cook with it. Olive oil can easily turn rancid when exposed to high levels of heat. The excessive heat produces a chemical reaction which spoils the valuable fatty acids contained in the oil. (8)
6. Kefir Milk
Kefir milk is a fermented goat’s milk that has the consistency of drinking yogurt. Kefir is highly nutritious and enriched with live bacterial prebiotic and probiotic enzymes. The enzymes in kefir help the biomes absorb nutrients from other foods with better efficiency, increasing the assimilation of nutrients and minerals from other foods in your diet. Kefir is rich in good fat sources and drinking a cup 45 minutes before a meal will ensure that you get the most out of your nutrition.
7. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Full-fat Greek yogurt is another example of a great fat source filled with live bacterial enzymes that have prebiotic properties. A bowl of Greek yogurt with muesli, papaya, and organic honey is a great way to start any day.
8. Full-Cream Raw Milk
Raw milk, unpasteurized and straight from a local, organic dairy, is far removed from commercialized, store-bought milk. Raw milk has even been outlawed in some states due to dubious evidence in questionable studies that highlight negative aspects of raw milk consumption. However, raw, unpasteurized milk from organic farmers is possibly the most nutritious liquid known to mankind.
Raw milk is rich in enzymes, prebiotic and probiotic enzymes, as well as live bacterial cultures that all benefit the health of the GI tract when ingested. If you have the good fortune of having access to an organic dairy farm, arrange to buy some raw milk and judge the difference for yourself. The taste, texture, mouthfeel, smell, and flavor are completely different from the commercial store-bought milk.
Eggs are another example of recent research in science busting nutrition myths of the past. Eggs have been demonized for their high fat and cholesterol content. Popular myth stated that dietary cholesterol had an impact on blood lipid levels, however, recent research has indicated that fat and cholesterol is not the problem. On the contrary, good fats sources combined with the other enzymes, such as biotin, found in eggs are essential for improved cardiovascular and circulatory health.
If you are going to add in eggs to your diet, make sure that your boil, scramble or poach them. Avoid frying them in bad oils such as sunflower oil. Frying in any oil is a bad idea, particularly with olive oil. Olive oil is known for its valuable fatty acid profile, however, when heated, these triglyceride chains turn rancid and convert to trans-saturated fatty acids. If you must fry, use coconut oil, as it is not affected by heat in the same way as olive oil and is suitable for cooking.(9)
10. Salmon, Mackerel and Tuna
Fatty fishes such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon are also a great source of dietary fat. Their flesh is dark, firm, and can be served in so many delicious ways. Be it seared tuna steak or salmon sashimi, fatty fish tastes great cooked or raw. Adding fish to your diet at least once a week will improve your physical and mental health.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish provide protection against mental diseases such as dementia, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids also protect the skeletal system and lubricate joints, providing assistance with alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis. (10)
While good fat is essential to our diet, remember that the key is moderation. Eating a balanced diet is a healthy choice. Dietary changes should be made in consultation with nutrition professionals who can help you make dietary choices based on your individual health and well-being needs.