Are fats bad for you?

  • No, we need fats
  • Our body needs fat. Fats are needed for growth and development and they also provide energy to our body.

What are the different types of fats

Fats are broken down to 2 different groups,

  • Saturated fat
  • Unsaturated fat

Saturated fat

  • Saturated fat is found in meats and dairy

Unsaturated fat

  • “Unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature, are considered beneficial fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles.”-Harvard Health.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, peanuts and olives.
  • Polysaturated fats are found in walnuts, fish and canola oil.

What are trans fats

  • Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated fats have been modified to prolong their shelf life.
  • They are made by adding hydrogen, a process known as hydrogenation.
  • Trans fats can form naturally such as in animals or they can be processed.
  • The FDA states that, “Eating trans fat raises the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in the blood.  An elevated LDL blood cholesterol level can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”
  • Foods that may contain trans fats,
    • Crisco
    • Margarine
    • Pie crust
    • Bisquick
    • Microwave popcorn
    • Packaged cookies
    • Non dairy creamer
    • Animal fats in meat and dairy

Are fats bad for you?

  • Observational studies  in the past suggested an association of heart disease with those who consumed large quantities of saturated fat. Recently, these claims have been disputed.

It appears that saturated fat does not increase the risk of heart disease

  • “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.”

Siri-Tarino PW1, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. Epub

  • “An objective assessment of evidence in the dietary guidelines of American Committees Report does not suggest a conclusive proscription against low-carbohydrate diets. The DGAC Report does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that increases in whole grain and fiber and decreases in dietary saturated fat, salt, and animal protein will lead to positive health outcomes. Lack of supporting evidence limits the value of the proposed recommendations as guidance for consumers or as the basis for public health policy. It is time to reexamine how US dietary guidelines are created and ask whether the current process is still appropriate for our needs.”Hite AH1, Feinman RD, Guzman GE, Satin M, Schoenfeld PA, Wood RJ.  Nutrition. 2010 Oct;26(10):915-24. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.08.012.

There appears to be a benefit of polyunsaturated fat over saturated fats

  • “While saturated fat may not be as harmful as once thought, evidence clearly shows that unsaturated fat remains the healthiest type of fat.” –Harvard Health
  • “Convincing evidence was found that partial replacement of saturated fat (SFA) with polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) or monounsaturated fat (MUFA) lowers fasting serum/plasma total and LDL cholesterol concentrations. It may also decrease the risk of heart disease, especially in men.
  • The authors recommended the need for additional studies looking at the, “the amount and quality of dietary fat on insulin sensitivity, T2DM, low-grade inflammation, and blood pressure.”
  • Schwab U1, Lauritzen L2, Tholstrup T2, Haldorssoni T3, Riserus U4, Uusitupa M5, Becker W6. Food Nutr Res. 2014 Jul 10;58. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v58.25145. eCollection 2014.

Consider avoiding trans fats

  • Trans fats have been shown to increase bad LDL and lower good HDL.
  • Trans fats can increase inflammation which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
  • “The effect of trans fatty acids on the serum lipoprotein profile is at least as unfavorable as that of the cholesterol-raising saturated fatty acids, because they not only raise LDL cholesterol levels but also lower HDL cholesterol levels.” (N Engl J Med 1990; 323:439–45.
  • In 2006 trans fats were listed on food labels.
  • The FDA has banned trans fats, so by 2018 they should no longer be used in packaged foods.

Replacing carbohydrates with fat may improve blood pressure and risk for heart disease

  • “Replacing a carbohydrate-rich diet with one rich in unsaturated fat, predominantly monounsaturated fats, lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and reduces the estimated cardiovascular risk.”

Appel, L.J., et al., Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. JAMA, 2005. 294(19): p. 2455-64.

Trans fats are associated with heart disease.

A recent study from Harvard suggests that consuming higher amounts of unsaturated fats offers advantages.

The report states, “The study is the most detailed and powerful examination to date on how dietary fats impact health. It suggests that replacing saturated fats like butter, lard, and fat in red meat with unsaturated fats from plant-based foods—like olive oil, canola oil, and soybean oil—can confer substantial health benefits and should continue to be a key message in dietary recommendations.”

About the study

  • The study included 126,233 participants from two large long-term studies.
  • The participants answered survey questions every 2-4 years about their diet, lifestyle, and health for up to 32 years.
  • Of all the fats that were studied trans fats increased had the most significant adverse impact on health.
  • Intake of high amounts of unsaturated fats including both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated was associated with a 11% to 19% lower overall mortality compared with the same number of calories from carbohydrates.


“Specific Dietary Fats in Relation to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” Dong D. Wang, Yanping Li, Stephanie E. Chiuve, Meir J. Stampfer, JoAnn E. Manson, Eric B. Rimm, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu, JAMA Internal Medicine, online July 5, 2016, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2417

Butter is probably a better choice than margarine.

  • “Adjustment for total fat intake and for cigarette smoking, glucose intolerance, left ventricular hypertrophy, body mass index, blood pressure, physical activity, and alcohol intake did not materially change the results. Butter intake did not predict CHD (chronic chart disease) incidence. These data offer modest support to the hypothesis that margarine intake increases the risk of coronary heart disease.”
Do not skip on fat altogether. Our body needs fats to produce energy, they also help in absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K.






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