There are foods that are good for you and then there are foods that aren't so good for you, but taste incredible. So what do you do? Well, a new study suggests your favorite foods might not be so bad.
Jeff Pickett has become a regular here at CrossFit Sioux Falls. Over the past couple years the intense workouts have kept his body in shape, but his diet has taken some tweaking.
"I had a lot of inflammation from being a runner and I found that when I went on a more Paleo/primal diet and got away from carbohydrates and had more of the fats, the inflammation went away." Said Pickett.
You heard that right, Jeff actually added fat to his diet. In fact, the new consensus: you should too.
"We have got to look at the whole diet and have it be something that people realize that you have to be careful with much fat you're adding and the right kinds of fat; but is it just saturated fat only that's bad? Not necessarily." Said Mary Beth Russell, a registered dietitian at the Avera Heart Hospital.
For the better part of two decades the thought has been anything low or non-fat is the way to lose weight and keep your ticker from getting clogged. In theory it seems correct.
"But when people take out the fat from their diets and say we're not going to eat saturated fat anymore what they tend to do is bring in things that are low-fat foods which have more carbohydrates." Said Russell.
When it comes to heart health, keeping saturated fats in your diet is actually better than supplementing with carbs. saturated fats raise your HDL or 'good' cholesterol while also lowering triglycerides. Yes, the 'bad' LDL cholesterol is also raised but it's only one contributing factor to heart disease. Carbohydrates on the other hand worsen your glucose and insulin. So completely swapping out saturated fats isn't heart healthy advice.
"Certainly you don't want to do tons and tons of saturated fats just because it doesn't necessarily correlate with heart disease exactly, it will cause you to gain weight so you do want to be cautious." Said Russell.
So what are the best choices?
"Things like dairy products, things like meats and anything that comes from an animal." Said Russell.
The Avera Heart Hospital's kitchen follows a Mediterranean diet which includes lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil and small amounts of cheese and meat. The saturated fats in fish and grass-fed beef also have higher levels of omega-3's which in turn help burn fats faster. So that means Jeff is getting the fuel he needs for his workouts and nothing extra is left behind.
"I've been able to enjoy a pretty healthy lifestyle and my children are fairly young so I choose to eat this way because I want to stay around for quite a while and teach them the best ways to eat as well!" Said Pickett.
So the simple message is this: cut back on those refined processed carbs and remember that some fat, of the saturated variety, is actually a good thing for your heart health. Once again, this is not a green light to eat as much saturated fats as you want, but you don't have to avoid them all together. For more information about saturated fats just call 877-AT-AVERA.