Beer, whiskey and pork fat: the new health foods?
April 27th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Beer lovers, rejoice. Whiskey drinkers, celebrate. Pork fat fans, this is your moment. All the things you thought were unhealthy can actually help you lose a ton of weight.

Well, not exactly. This isn’t an ad in the back pages of a sketchy magazine. All these things are still not good for you when you eat and drink them in large quantities. And don’t stop eating your blueberries and strawberries if you want to boost your brainpower.

Still, there’s some surprising good health news for anyone who wants to wash down their lard-topped popcorn with a beer and a shot of whiskey.

Beer: The Problem-Solver
Question: Who’s better at solving brainteasers, men who are sober or men who have drunk two pints of beer? According to research from the University of Illinois, the drinkers are the winners. (That sound you hear is every guy I know cracking open a beer right now in self-righteous satisfaction.) Not only did the drinkers solve 40 percent more problems than the nondrinkers, they solved their problems faster: 12 seconds compared to the nondrinking 15.5 seconds.

Pork Fat: The Bad Cholesterol Fighter
"Pork fat is not only useful, but it is also good for us," says my new hero, Jennifer McLagan. She’s the author of the James Beard Award–winning "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient". To back up her claim, McLagan's book includes a chart showing that 45 percent of pork fat is monounsaturated, which can help raise your HDL, or good cholesterol, and also can help lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol.

She also extols the benefits of frying in lard, because food absorbs less fat than if you fry it in oil. Lagan piles on the good news, arguing that "Diets low in fat, it turns out, leave people hungry, depressed and prone to weight gain and illness." To ensure readers' happiness, she includes recipes in "Fat", including one for euphoria-inducing bacon fat mayonnaise.

Whiskey: The Good Cholesterol Booster
If you’re looking for other celebratory ways to increase your good cholesterol levels and potentially decrease your risk of a stroke, grab a bottle of your favorite booze. And then drink in moderation. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies suggest that if you consume one alcoholic drink per day if you're a woman, or two drinks a day if you're a guy, you can increase your HDL cholesterol levels and also potentially decrease your risk of a stroke. But, cautions the Mayo Clinic, "If you don't drink alcohol, don't start just to try raising your HDL levels."

Popcorn: The Antioxidant Hero
You don’t need me to tell you that popcorn is popular with the high fiber crowd. Here’s more good news for anyone who’s trying to justify their next big bucket of (nonbuttered, non-oversalted) popcorn: New research from the University of Scranton suggests that a serving of popcorn is higher in antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables. Those antioxidants, known as polyphenols, are associated with helping to prevent cancer. They’re concentrated in popcorn’s husk, which is something to consider the next time it gets stuck in your teeth and you consider spitting it out.

More from Food & Wine:

50 Best Bars in America

Ultimate Bacon Recipes

Whiskey Cocktails

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Spring Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bacon • Beer • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Food as Medicine • Health News • Sip • Spirits


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