For years you’ve heard that eating saturated fat is like pouring superglue into your arteries. But, this forbidden fat actually increases your HDL (good) cholesterol, which helps remove plaque from your artery walls, decreasing your risk of heart disease.
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.
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.
It’s true: Pork really is the other white meat. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast. And food scientists are finding ways to make it leaner and leaner every year.
Of course, the downside to this is that fat is what makes pork taste so good—which explains why ham and bacon are far more popular than leaner cuts. (As Emeril Lagasse says, “Pork fat rules.”) But remember, there’s no reason to fear fat—especially when you follow the tenets of the TNT Diet.
Not everyone has a taste for bacon, pancetta, and ham. But you can make your choice based simply on what you love without worrying about the fat in these foods.
Bacon and other cured meats often contain sodium and other preservatives, such as nitrates, that may raise blood pressure or increase your risk for cancer. To limit your risk, choose fresh meats or packaged products that contain no preservatives—typically labeled “all-natural”—whenever possible.
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.
They may even be the perfect diet food: Saint Louis University scientists found that people who had eggs as part of their breakfast ate fewer calories the rest of the day than those who ate bagels instead. Even though both breakfasts contained the same number of calories, the egg eaters consumed 264 fewer calories for the entire day.
However, you’ve probably been told at one time or another to avoid eggs because they’re high in cholesterol and fat. This is the same thinking that led to low-fat diets—and a mindset that has probably made us a lot fatter over the past decade. It’s simply a leftover recommendation from the low-fat legacy that was never forgotten.
In a recent review of dozens of scientific studies, Wake Forest University researchers found no connection between egg consumption and heart disease.
There are two main reasons that cheese is a great diet food:
-It’s packed with protein and fat, which keep you full.
-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.
If this delicious dairy product were the star of a sitcom on the Health network, the show would probably be called “Everybody Hates Butter.”
The reason, of course, is that it contains a significant amount of saturated fat. But again, 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.
What’s more, 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.
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.
The rest of the saturated fat in a coconut is believed to have little or no effect on cholesterol levels.
We think coconut is highly underrated—if you like the taste, try it as snack, eating the unsweetened, shredded kind straight from the bag. (You’ll probably have to search the health food section of your grocery store to find it.)
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.
And besides, full-fat tastes far better than the light or fat-free products, which also have added carbohydrates.