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In Defense of Eating Fatty Food


Love fatty foods? You're in luck—the tune has changed on recommendations for fat intake, and these days low-fat diets are out and healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are in. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from saturated fats, but the guidelines don't suggest an overall daily limit for calories from fat in general.

Why is fat important in your diet? Every cell in your body contains fat, and the right types help keep you healthy (think omega-3s). Eating foods with fat can also help you control your weight by providing satisfaction and satiety in only a few bites. While one or two bites of a decadent dessert might be enough, you may end up eating more of a fat-free dessert to feel satisfied, increasing the overall number of calories you consume. Many people also think that if food is fat-free they can have as much of it as they want. Not true! Those fat-free foods still contain calories, and many times they also contain added sugars and salt (and sometimes thickeners) to replace the missing flavor and texture that fat provides.

According to this American College of Cardiology, studies have shown that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats and with whole grains helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This means avocados, oils, nuts, and fatty fish such as salmon should be on your shopping list. (Find out how to get more omega-3 fatty acids.)

Adding these healthy fats to your meals easily adds flavor and variety to any standby recipe. There's also room in your diet for ice cream and other saturated fats from dairy, meats, and poultry in that 10 percent daily limit. And this isn't limited to skim milk either. Full-fat dairy has been shown to help keep you full, prevent overeating, and control weight. According to this study, it could even reduce the risk of developing diabetes. With all that said, it's still important to avoid trans fats to help reduce your risk of heart disease. But it's so good to know that fat is (officially and rightfully) back.


Deborah Tagliareni MS RD

Deborah Tagliareni, a Registered Dietitian and Founder of Milestone Nutrition, received her bachelors degree from Northwestern University and Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University.  More →

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