Feeding Your Family: Love Your Heart - Eat Fat

Poor fats. Here they've kept us alive for millions of years through famines and winters, developed our brains into the fine machines that they are and pleased and soothed our palates in hard times. Then along come the '80s and no one wants to be seen with them.

The problem with the zero-fat era that we've only just survived is that it was not entirely grounded in reality. No-fat diets rarely lead to permanent weight loss, for one thing. They're also terrible for the heart.

Take fat-free salad dressings. According to the famous Nurses' Study, women who consumed salad dressing made with vegetable oils five or more times a week were 50 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than women who rarely consumed full-fat salad dressings.

Same with nuts. While nuts came to be considered a dietary no-no, women who ate nuts daily were slimmer and suffered fewer heart attacks than non-nut-eaters.

Monounsaturated fats - found in nuts, olive oil, canola oil and avocados - have been linked to lower rates of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats - found in fish, corn oil and soybean oil - contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for normal functioning and protection against heart disease. These superheroes of the fat family are essential and healthful and should be enjoyed and consumed often.

For protection against heart disease - and for an enjoyable diet - replace processed foods and animal fats with fish, whole grains, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Your heart (and your waistline) will thank you.

- Larissa Phillips

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