Since time immemorial, nutritionists and health
authorities have preached the benefits of a low-fat diet as the key to losing
weight, keeping your
under check as well
as maintaining good health. Despite so much debate and discussion, ultimately
"fat" isn't always the culprit in the waistline wars. The fact is that more
than just the amount of fat, it is actually the type of fat you eat that
of Dietary Fat
fats and Polyunsaturated fats:
areconsidered as "good fats" because they are good for your heart,
cholesterol levels and your overall health. Good fats such as omega-3
are essential to physical and emotional health. Examples
of monounsaturated fats
, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, olives, and
nuts such as almonds, peanuts, hazel nuts etc. Safflower oil, soybean oil, corn
oil, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fishes such as salmon
tuna, mackerel etc are rich sources of polyunsaturated fats.
Saturated fats and trans fats:
These are known as the "bad
because they increase your risk of cardiovascular
and elevate cholesterol levels. High-fat cuts of meat
such as beef, lamb, pork; dairy produce such as full fat milk and cream;
ghee, lard etc are examples of saturated fats. Examples of trans fats include
margarine, vegetable shortening, commercially-baked pastries, cookies,
, fried food such as
chicken nuggets, breaded fish etc.
studies have shown that short-term modest
weight gains in healthy, normal weight young adults was associated with more
in those who ate muffins cooked using saturated oil,
whereas individuals who ate muffins made with polyunsaturated oils had improved
blood cholesterol levels.
Researchers from Sweden
conducted a double blind, parallel-group,
randomized controlled trial study in 39 adults (average age 27) for
about seven weeks. This study was primarily funded by the Swedish Research
The study participants were made
to eat three muffins each day made with either unsaturated sunflower or
saturated palm oil,
with the aim that the participants would gain about 3 percent of their body
weight during the study. All muffins had identical ingredients, except for the
fat that was used was either sunflower oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids
(PUFA) or palm oil rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA).
During the course of the study,
the participants continued their normal diet and physical activity levels and
the number of muffins was either added or subtracted according to the weight
gained by each individual. The muffins eaten by the participants were quite
high in carbohydrates and sugar, but it was seen that only those muffins which
were made using saturated oils raised some cholesterol concerns.
At the end of the study duration,
it was seen that all participants had a comparable weight gain and the average
weight gain for both groups was about 2.2 percent. The group who ate the
muffins made with unsaturated oil reportedly had lower levels of low-density
lipoproteins (LDL- bad
cholesterol) levels as well as a lower ratio between total
cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins (HDL-good cholesterol), and also
other positive indicators of cardiovascular health.
When compared, the LDL
levels reportedly differed by 9 percent and the overall cholesterol/HDL
cholesterol ratio differed as much as 18 percent between the two groups.
Ulf Risérus, M.D., Ph.D.,
principal investigator and associate professor of Clinical Nutrition and
Metabolism at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden commented "Even in early
adulthood, it is important to avoid high-calorie foods and weight gain, but
also it is important to consume sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats from
non-hydrogenated vegetable oils. The lowering of the cholesterol/HDL
cholesterol ratio by polyunsaturated fat is of special interest because recent
large studies have shown this ratio seems to predict heart disease risk even
better than LDL levels alone."
He further added "That the
effects were seen in less than two months on a high-calorie
that was high in fat and some sugars is also important. These
short-term metabolic adverse changes might help explain why some overweight
people are at higher risk of developing type 2
and cardiovascular disease in the long-term."
Researchers said the results of
the study have valuable implications for many people who gain weight due to
excess calorie intake from both sugars and fats and lack of physical activity.
The term "fit and fat" has been used for those obese individuals who despite
being fat are physically fit and they actually may be at lower disease risk
than a lean but sedentary person. The study clearly shows that gaining weight
on a high-calorie diet which is higher in polyunsaturated fat produces a
slightly more metabolically favorable weight gain, as compared to the weight
gain by consuming saturated fats.
Risérus, who believes the
effects of a high-saturated fat diet are fully reversible, further added
"Studies using these oils in weight-stable participants have demonstrated that
the adverse effects on LDL
seems to disappear shortly after they stop consuming foods with saturated fats,
and this may also be the case here. Such data would be important to encourage
people who gained weight to lose their weight and lower their metabolic risk."
The study demonstrated that the excess energy from polyunsaturated fatty acids reduced atherogenic lipoproteins compared with
saturated fatty acids in healthy young adults.
The researchers strongly believe that the
hyperproinsulinemia and increased biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction which happened due to weight gain could be partially
offset by the lipid-lowering effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
study was published in the Journal of the American
for Choosing Healthy Fats
totally give up fat in your diet in an effort to lose
, but try and replace trans fats and saturated fats with good
fats. This might mean just a little change in your diet plan such replacing
fried chicken with baked skinless chicken, adding fresh fish rich in omega 3
fatty acids, eating beans and legumes, and replacing ghee/butter with heart
healthy olive oil.
shopping, always read the food labels and check for the amount of trans fats
before you buy a product. Limit your intake of fast food and try and avoid
Home baked goodies are always the best since you
have the liberty to make healthy choices while baking.
Include omega-3 fatty acids such as
, ground flax seeds,
flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil etc in your diet everyday
• Cut back on your
intake of red meat and full-fat dairy
products as these are rich in saturated fats
. Substitute red meat with beans, nuts,
poultry and fish whenever possible. Replace whole milk and other full-fat dairy
foods with lower fat versions.
To promote health and well being, the answer isn't in cutting out the fat
totally from your diet, but it's learning to make healthy choices and to
replace bad fats with good ones. Healthy fats play vital role in helping you
manage your moods, stay mentally fit, fight fatigue
and control your weight.
So in your constant endeavor to stay healthy,
stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have