Though once-popular diets like the Atkins Diet recommended bacon and butter for optimal health, a new study from Harvard researchers has found that not all fats are created equally, and that the source of the fats in your diet matter. According to the research, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who swapped saturated fats, like those found in meats and dairy, with unsaturated fats, like those from nuts and vegetables, had a lower risk of heart disease.
To put this information to use in your diet, try reducing your use of butter, bacon grease or other saturated fats with one of these healthier, unsaturated fats.
Instead of using creamy dressings for your salads, which contain saturated dairy fats that the study linked to heart disease and offer little in the way of added nutrition, use a combination of olive oil and a tasty vinegar. Olive oil is also a great replacement for butter and eggs in baking.
Avocado toast has become a popular breakfast or snack item, and for good reason; by swapping out butter or cream cheese for a very ripe avocado and pairing it with whole-grain toast or a bagel, you’ll be adding necessary protein that can help your body grow muscle tissue.
The Mayo Clinic recommends replacing meats like beef and pork at least twice per week, and instead, using fish like tuna and salmon as your main protein source. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can aid in joint function and even improve your mood. Salmon is also a good choice of fish, due to its relatively low levels of mercury.
A great choice for high-heat cooking, sunflower oil is a polyunsaturated fat, which means that it contains a two or more carbon–carbon double bonds. Polyunsaturated fats are necessary for your diet. Try sunflower oil in your frying and cooking, instead of butter.
If you love the creamy texture of full-fat dairy milk, consider trying a non-dairy alternative, like almond, cashew or hemp milk. These replacements can be satisfying, while replacing saturated fats with unsaturated ones.
When you need a high-protein snack, reach for a small serving of almonds. They’re high calorie, so watch your serving size, but rest assured that they’re also delivering vitamin E and calcium, which are essential for protecting cells and spurring healthy growth. They make a great treat by themselves, or as a good swap for bacon or other saturated fats on salads and in dishes.
By making these easy swaps, you can protect your heart from disease while giving your body the nutrients it needs.