For decades saturated fat was public enemy No. 1.
People gave up butter for margarine, and swapped out lard for shortening. Farmers bred pigs to produce leaner pork chops. An entire packaged "health food" market was built on fat-free promises.
But recent research shows they seem to have gotten it all wrong.
An October article published in the British Medical Journal noted that, although fat consumption has declined by 10 percent in the U.S. over the past 30 years, obesity has skyrocketed in part because the food industry replaced saturated fats with synthetic trans fats and processed sugars.
Research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in March showed people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had no more heart disease than those who ate less, with some evidence pointing to a lack of saturated fat as possibly damaging.
"It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated (fat) in heart disease," London cardiologist Aseem Malhotra wrote in the BMJ article, "and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity."
Researchers in both journals offered the same advice: Eat real food.
Put some good old-fashioned butter back in your refrigerator, leave the skin on your chicken breasts, and don't fear bacon – especially if a strip might help you later skip the Oreos.
In that spirit, we offer recipes and advice for making the most of fat in all its most delicious, and best-for-you, forms.
It's not just a saying. Butter actually makes everything better. Butter is rich in vitamin A, as well as the fat-soluble vitamins D, E and K. It offers an ideal balance of omega-3 fatty acids, the same that made salmon so famous — so, what better than to pair them up?
Honey-glazed salmon in browned-butter-lime sauce
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
8 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons honey
zest of two limes
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic
minced salt and pepper to taste
• For the sauce: Place butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is fragrant and browned. Remove from heat. Place browned butter, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until well incorporated. Set aside. Sauce may need to be whisked before pouring over the finished salmon.
• For the salmon: Working two fillets at a time, place salmon on a cutting board or plate and sprinkle 1 teaspoon flour over each side spreading evenly to coat. Drizzle ¾ teaspoon honey over each side of the flour-coated fillets. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium and coat with olive oil. Once oil is hot, carefully place salmon in pan and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side until cooked through and nicely browned. Plate salmon immediately, drizzle each fillet with browned butter lime sauce and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve warm.
Adapted from cookingclassy.com
Coconut oil is mainly comprised of saturated fats, so for years it was banished to the farthest reaches of the crunchiest health-food stores. But coconut oil's fats are rich in lauric acid, which has shown to boost good cholesterol. Bonus: It adds a subtle tropical flavor to whatever it touches.
Coconut-oil roasted sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 pounds sweet potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks
coarse salt to taste
black pepper to taste
optional spices: chili powder, cumin, cinamon, coconut flakes
• Preheat oven to 400. In a large mixing bowl or plastic zip-top bag toss potatoes with coconut oil, salt, pepper and any other optional spices to taste.
• Spread potatoes onto a large baking sheet. Roast until tender and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once through. If you like, you could sprinkle two tablespoons of shredded coconut onto the potatoes about 12 to 15 minutes before they're finished. Allow potatoes to cool a little, and serve.
Oh bacon and all your smoky-sweet-savory magic. Who would've thought something so mouthwatering might also be good for us? To be fair, all bacon is not created equal. For optimal health benefits look for bacon made from pastured pigs, and for brands that are minimally processed — with no nitrates and less salt.
Bacon and basil wrapped shrimp
1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 fresh basil leaf per shrimp
8 thin-cut bacon strips cut in halves
1 wooden toothpick per shrimp
Preheat oven to 375. Wrap each shrimp with a basil leaf and then a piece of bacon. Try not to overlap the bacon, as you want it to cook evenly. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon in place. Arrange the shrimp on a baking sheet.
Place the shrimp in the oven and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until they are just turning pink on one side. Remove the shrimp from the oven, turn the oven heat up to broil and flip the shrimp over.
Place the shrimp back into the oven and broil for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until the bacon starts to get crispy.
Adapted from foodrepublic.com