The best-performing mutual funds of 2011 invested in large-cap, dividend-paying stocks—putting utility, real estate investment trust, health care and consumer staple funds at the top of the heap.

Through Dec. 28, the best-performing mutual fund categories were:

1.)    Utility Funds—9.7%

2.)    Real Estate Funds—6.9%

3.)    Health Care Funds—6.6%

4.)    Consumer Staples Funds—4.5%

“People are looking to dividends for income because they can’t get it from the other sources they normally rely on,” Morningstar fund analyst David Kathman told the Associated Press. “Practically anything paying a dividend was hot.”

Lee Barney writes for Money Management Executive.