Monday, April 7, 2014

Eating Fat Doesn't Make You Fat

That theory is the focus of a recent article in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. A group of researchers from Cambridge University analyzed the results of 72 separate studies that included over 600,000 participants in 18 different countries. The results challenge longstanding dietary recommendations regarding fat intake and heart disease. Specifically they looked at saturated fat as found in meat and dairy products. but also in non-animal products like Palm and Coconut oil as well as Cocoa butter. Here are some of the findings:
  • Whether measured in the bloodstream or as a component of diet, total saturated fatty acid was not linked to coronary disease risk
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 supplements to diets had no benefit in reducing risk of coronary disease
  • Trans fats, found mostly in processed foods, resulted in a 16 % increased risk for heart disease.
  • One specific fatty acid, margarin acid (a dairy fat), significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This is important research for several reasons. Heart disease is still the number one killer in the world. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from cardiovascular disease related illness. For years we have been lead to believe that eating saturated fat was linked to an increased risk of heart disease. This was largely based on a hypothesis promoted in the 1950’s that has never been proven.

It is important to understand that this new research is not saying that saturated fat is good for you or that you should eat more of it. It is on the other hand saying that it may not be as bad for you as we previously thought. Clearly more research is needed to understand the role for saturated fat in our diet. 

For now even the researchers from this study agree that the best way to prevent heart disease is to:
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.
A good example of a healthy diet is the Mediterranean diet which includes a wide variety of minimally processed, whole foods such as:
  • Nuts 
  • Vegetable and olive oils (which have some saturated fat)
  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables 
  • Small portions of animal products such as yogurt and cheese.
We at MDfitness totally agree! In fact these are the principals we follow with most of our recipes.