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Are All Fats Unhealthy?

We have seen the ingestion of fats being placed into these categories:

  • Saturated fats (found in meats, whole dairy products and baked goods)
  • Polyunsaturated fat such as Omega-3, Omega-6 (found in nuts, fish, seeds and vegetable oils
  • Monounsaturated fats (found in olive and canola oils)
  • Trans fats (found in fried and baked foods)

We have always heard that saturated and trans fats are “bad” whereas unsaturated fats are “good” for our health.  

There is no doubt that there is 100% consensus that trans fats are very unhealthy and they contribute to an increase risk of heart disease.  Ingestion of trans fats increases the “bad” cholesterol (LDL).  However, there is some controversy about whether the eating of saturated fats truly increases the risk of heart disease.

In 2014 a major study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that analyzed and collated data from 72  studies looking at fat intake and heart disease risk.  This “metanalysis” included over 600,000 people from 18 different countries.   

Interestingly, the ingestion of saturated fats did not seem to increase the risk of developing heart disease and the eating of monounsaturated fats did not seem to reduce the development of heart disease.  The study did show that trans fat ingestion, was indeed, harmful to people.

The study results did not result in major recommendation changes for fat intake by the government or academic medical institutions.  It is still the case that experts still recommend the reduction of saturated fat intake and encourage unsaturated fat intake.

From a “weight loss” perspective, Dr. Atkins definitely proved by his dietary approach that people could still lose lots of weight even while eating all the fat, both saturated and unsaturated, that they wanted to.  However, weight loss does not always correlate with a reduction of heart disease if other risk factors, such as high LDL cholesterol occur because of the dietary plan followed.

Posner’s take:  Trans fats are VERY bad, saturated fats can be eaten in moderation and unsaturated fats should also be eaten with moderation.  Protein and vegetables are the key for long-term weight control.

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