As you strive to get healthier in 2021, keep in mind that judging a food as harmful because it contains more saturated fat, or beneficial because it contains less, is outdated. Instead, concentrate on eating a variety of foods, instead of getting your nutrients from a minimal number of sources. 

Along with eating a fiber-rich diet that includes plenty of whole unprocessed foods, and putting the brakes on added or hidden sugars, here are some reasons for including healthy or better-for-you saturated fats in your diet in 2021. 

Saturated fats may help you lose weight  

Healthy saturated fats have a place in a low-carb/high-fat weight-loss plan. Fatty acids enable people to absorb necessary fat-soluble vitamins. Dietary fats also contribute to satiety, which may help you curb snacking. 

Save easily burned olive oil for salad dressings. Instead, use Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil or sautéing, grilling and frying because it is heat stable. It won’t break down and give your food a bitter or burnt taste. It’s also flavor neutral. 

Saturated fats have a role in brain health and maybe support better moods 

The neurological system influences everything from learning to our mood. You may want to steer clear of oils such as canola, corn and soy because they may induce a dopamine surge, signaling the brain to call for more carbohydrates, sabotaging your willpower if you’re trying to cut back on sugar or high-carb snack foods. Research also suggests that these oils are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6. Inflammation in the brain may cause you to develop insomnia, among other things. Palm oil, butter and ghee contain fewer omega-6s. 

Palm oil is nature’s richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols, which are scientifically associated with protecting the brain’s white matter, areas of the brain affecting how well it learns and functions. They may also help the brain defend itself from stroke damage. 

Some types of saturated fats deserve a place in a heart-healthy diet  

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There’s now strong evidence that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates, a hallmark of low-fat diets, has not lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Instead of saturated fats and cholesterol, many leading nutrition and health experts are now looking at inflammation as a contributing factor to heart disease. In plain English? A high-carb diet, not a high-fat diet, may not be so great for your heart. 

One of the most ambitious — and revealing — studies took place over 12 months and involved 577 healthy participants. That study found that a high-carb diet was much more likely to increase an otherwise healthy person’s heart disease risk factors than a high-fat diet. Fat didn’t move the needle one way or the other. 

When it comes to boosting fat intake, however, some fats are healthier than others. Most of the participants in this study consumed Malaysian palm oil, which is 50% saturated fat (and 40% monounsaturated fat, the same kind found in olive oil!). The saturated fat in grass-fed beef isn’t filled with antibiotics or steroids, which also puts it on the “eat this” list. So is dark chocolate which, in addition to saturated fat, contains fiber, iron, antioxidants, flavanols and other nutrients. 

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