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Dietary Fat, all we need to know

Updated: Apr 15

If two items that can be said to have been proved by time:

Science is only knowledge with known facts and nothing more or less and two items to prove it best are changing opinions on are sugar and fat. That means –you will need lot of courage to say anything with finality of an obstinate child.

Low fat? No fat? Try more fat. Dietary fats are essential for maintaining good overall health, especially as you age. Body needs a regular intake of fat. Fat helps give body energy, protects organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and help body absorb vital nutrients.

The genesis of problem arose when cholesterol was found to be like fatty wax and it was found capable to clog arteries hence leading to heart issues. But since than lot of changes have taken places in our understanding in relation to:

LDL: One that carries the blood to different parts of body, and

HDL: That returns the same back

But more important research has been done in field of nutrition and fats got divided in broadly 4 categories.

And current advisory is

1.      Broad percentage of fat that must be in one’s diet

2.     Fats that must be more

3.     Fats that must be less, and

4.     Fats that must be out of diet ---in fact WHO guidelines are they must be eliminated in food basket.

Types of Fat:

Saturated. This is the so-called "bad" fat. It's primarily found in animal products like beef, pork, and high-fat dairy foods, like butter, margarine, cream, and cheese. High amounts of saturated fat also are found in many fast, processed, and baked foods like pizza, desserts, hamburgers, and cookies and pastries. These fats tend to more "solid" (think butter or lard) than healthier fats.

Unsaturated. This is the healthy kind, and there are two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados and peanut butter; nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans; and seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds. It is also in plant oils, such as olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, mustard.

Trans saturated fats:

The advisory is they must not be in food basket.

They are fats that have been converted from seed oils into solid fat by chemical process ---hydrogenation process. In India Dalda / Rath ghee is example –its used mostly in processed food and bazar food for major 2 reasons. 1.It’s cheap and,2 it has longer stable life post cooking.

Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are found in plant-based oils like soybean, corn, and safflower oils, and they are abundant in walnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and trout.

The main health issue with dietary fats is how they influence cholesterol levels. Consuming high amounts of saturated fat produces more LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can form plaque in the arteries and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Many processed and fast foods made with saturated fat also contain high amounts of calories, which can lead to weight gain and further raise your heart disease risk.

In comparison, the unsaturated fats help to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. HDL picks up excess LDL in the blood and moves it to the liver, where it is broken down and discarded.  Want to have a high HDL-to-LDL ratio, and unsaturated fats can help with this.

But research has found that it is not enough just to eat more healthy fats. You also have to cut out the unhealthy saturated fat, too. A study from Harvard researchers in the March 2018 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming monounsaturated fats, especially from nuts and olive oil, can lower a person's risk of heart disease — especially if the healthy fat replaces saturated fat and refined carbs (which can also raise LDL levels). The researchers added that any benefit from consuming monounsaturated fats may be negated if a person continues to consume too much saturated fat.

In fact, most research is that even human brain needs good fat to remain healthy over longer periods. In fact, a lot of research is happening on front called: Mind diet ---and healthy fat is found to be necessary part.

Dietary fat and its relation to health is being heavily researched. Below are some trends in the current research.

  • The association between fat consumption and the risk of chronic disease is among the most vexed issues in public health: Are dietary fats “villains,” are they “benign”, or are they even “heroes” that could help us consume better overall diets and promote health? This is the result of new research: high-fat diets promote weight loss better than high-carbohydrate diets; the biological effects and health risks of the different SFAs are not the same; the understanding that high LDL-cholesterol (increased by SFA intake) may not be the most important risk factor for CVD; and research demonstrates that dietary fats influence other biomarkers of CVD, including inflammation, thrombosis, ventricular arrhythmias, and blood pressure in positive ways .

  • The emphasis on fat and types of fats is turning more towards a food/food pattern approach where the ‘healthy diet pattern’ contains a variety of different fats and may even be high in fat. In the era of genomics, it is becoming clear that dietary fats alter lipids and other biomarkers of health in not only racial and ethnic subgroups but also those with different genetic phenotypes and the future of fat recommendations may be moving further away from population recommendations towards individualized prescriptions.

  • Certain fatty acids or groups of fatty acids previously considered benign, harmful, or nonessential, are being studied for their potential health benefits. This list includes MUFAs, medium chain fatty acids (coconut oil and role in inducing ketosis), long chain PUFAs (arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids), and vaccenic acid (a trans fatty acid in dairy and meats from ruminant animals).

  • As inflammation is a risk factor for almost every chronic disease, dietary fats are being studied as mediators/regulators of inflammatory mediators and processes in a variety of conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, CVD, and cancer.



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