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Eating more fat could make you live longer

Photo: Thinkstock/Natalia Zakharova
Photo: Thinkstock/Natalia Zakharova

As if you needed an excuse to eat avocados for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and fat bombs for dessert), a new study found that a diet heavy in unsaturated fats could lead to a longer lifespan. It’s more evidence suggesting that not all calories are created equal.

Researchers at Harvard followed over 126,000 people for three decades, analyzing their diet, lifestyle, health, and yes, when and if they died. They found that participants who ate unsaturated fats from plant-based foods lived longer than those who ate the same number of calories from foods high in carbs.

And it’s no surprise, but they also saw that people who ate a lot of trans fats (i.e. processed foods) didn’t fare as well either—in fact, they had the worst problems of all.

Overall, researchers calculated that a diet high in saturated fats led to a lifespan between 11 and 19 percent longer—pretty significant. Wondering what exactly you should fill up on if you want to add a few years to your life? The scientists behind the study recommend fish, soy, nuts, eggs, and cooking with canola oil. Avoiding starch and sugar is a good idea, too.

“Our study shows the importance of eliminating trans fat and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats, including both omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids,” says Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. So, fish for dinner?

While you’re tweaking your eating habits, check out the four foods you may think are healthy, but nutritionists don’t. And if you’re trying to part ways with diet soda for good, here’s how to do it.