Dietary Fats – The Shift in Expert Recommendations

Russ Barton MS, CNS, CISSN Health Education 1 Comment

Dietary Fats

Science has come a long way since the simplistic admonition in the 1980’s for Americans to eat less fat.

It has taken nearly 30 years to officially reverse some recommendations about cholesterol and fat intake, even with relatively strong evidence that the recommendations were not based on current scientific evidence. Also, contrary to our thought process in the 1980’s, it isn’t as simple as “saturated fats are bad” and “unsaturated fats are good.”

It was that exact overly simplistic thinking that resulted in the near extinction of tropical oils from the food supply and the explosion of hydrogenated vegetable oils (think trans-fat). The truth of the matter is that not all polyunsaturated fats are healthy, nor are all saturated fats unhealthy.

There has also been a shift in what most experts agree is a healthier macronutrient ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The long-time recommendation to eat low fat and high carbohydrate has now been adjusted to slightly increase fat and decrease carbohydrates to a more moderate level of both.

Although most experts would still agree with the fact that fats derived from plant sources, which are primarily unsaturated fats, should comprise the majority of fat intake, some research has indicated that replacing all saturated fat with polyunsatured fats or carbohydrates may actually worsen heart health and disease risk.

So, as it turns out with most nutrition and health related subjects, the best advice is balance and moderation.Dietary Fats

The most recent evidence indicates that saturated fatty acids do not negatively affect endothelial function nor do they increase coronary heart disease risk. Endothelial cells are cells that line the inner vascular system that mediate coagulation, platelet adhesion, immune function and control vasodilation and vasoconstriction. Endothelial dysfunction is thought to be a key event in the development of atherosclerosis.

Saturated fats have a big advantage over polyunsaturated fats when it comes to stability. They are much less prone to oxidation and rancidity. Even the healthiest of polyunsaturated fats becomes unhealthy once it is oxidized. This is a real potential concern in processed products that require a fairly long shelf-life.

Dietary FatsNot only are saturated fats much less prone to oxidation, newer research also indicates that saturated fats have a more positive effect on HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) than polyunsaturated fats.

It may take many more years for the official recommendations to catch up with science when it comes to saturated fat, but the evidence is mounting. Until then, our mission is to provide the healthiest and best quality products based on current science. Currently, the science says get a variety of fats from healthy sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables (avocados, olives), and that our avoidance and fear of saturated fats (especially from tropical plants) has been largely exaggerated and unnecessary.

Sources
-Nathalie Genevieve Puaschitz et al. Dietary Intake of Saturated Fat Is Not Associated with Risk of Coronary Events or Mortality in Patients with Established Coronary Artery Disease. . J Nutr. February 1, 2015 vol. 145 no. 2 299-305
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/145/2/299.abstract
-Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
-DiNicolantonio JJ.The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines haveit wrong?. Open Heart 2014;1:e000032.doi:10.1136/openhrt-2013-000032.
http://openheart.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000032.full.pdf+html

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