What was once maligned as the most evil of food groups is experiencing a comeback, with consumers in the US letting go of their longstanding infatuation with low-fat and fat-free foods in favor of healthy fats to line their cupboard shelves, says a new market industry report.

Consumers are becoming better-informed and making the distinction between healthy polyunsaturated fats and unhealthy saturated and trans fats like butter and margarine, says the new study by Packaged Facts.

And that’s translated into a growing demand for healthier oils like olive and canola oil since 2007, reported online trade publication FoodNavigator.com this week.

“As a result, consumers who had embraced low-fat diets for years are returning to foods and beverages that feature the better-for-you fats, all in keeping with the larger healthier eating trend that is shaping the food industry,” reads the report.

The shift comes at a time when scientists are uncovering the many health benefits of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. A study published this month in the print version of the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, for example, found that a high-fat diet – consisting of healthy fats – improved the heart’s ability to pump in patients suffering from heart failure.

A general rule of thumb to follow in order to distinguish between good and bad fats: foods made up of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, like olive, safflower, peanut, flaxseed and corn oil.

Other foods containing healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.

Saturated fats are found in butter and cheese, while trans fats are found in processed foods including margarine. — AFP RELAXNEWS