The Truth About Fats
Not all fats are equal. Learn which ones actually boost your health!
Animal Fat to Avoid continued...
"People want to hear that not eating less red meat will save them, but
that is a simplistic notion that doesn't really fit in with modern nutrition
science," says Kava. "What the science tells us is that lifestyle
changes -- stopping smoking, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake,
increasing vegetable intake -- has by far the most pronounced effect in
improving a person's health than does cutting out certain food
This does not mean you should eat steak every night. If you're at high risk
of heart disease, you should still severely limit your saturated fats. But the
newer research does explain why many health organizations no longer try to
scare people away from "bad" foods.
For example, says Kendall, "for years, we've encouraged people to eat
poultry instead of red meat because it is lower in saturated fat. But when you
look at the data on how these foods affect actual blood cholesterol levels,
there isn't that much difference."
Rather than avoid meats, nutritionists today say you should simply eat more
of the foods proven healthy in long-term studies: fish, vegetables, and fruit.
Equally important, exercise, even you just walk briskly 30 minutes a day.
The Good Oils
The health message about oils has not changed and is very simple. Stick to
olive oil or canola oil.
Olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, which do not raise
blood cholesterol levels. It also is a good source of vitamin E and
polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing the oxygen-related damage to
the vascular system.
Canola oil, on the other hand, has loads of monounsaturated fatty acids in
the form of oleic acid. This acid has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol
levels, and it may lower LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels without
changing "good" HDL levels. Also, canola oil is high in two essential
polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies can't make: alpha-linolenic acid
and linolenic acid.
Alpha-linolenic acid appears to lower blood triglyceride levels. It also may
reduce platelet aggregation and increase blood clotting time, both of which are
important to people at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Oils to Avoid
Simply put, avoid vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, such
as regular vegetable oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed
Until the recently, there really were no healthy spreads. Butter is too high
in cholesterol for people who are at risk of heart disease; most margarine is
made from trans fatty acids. In the 1980s, some manufacturers put out special,
watered-down versions of spreads that had lower overall calorie content, but
they tasted like it.
Then came spreads made from olive oil, wood pulp (Benecol) and soybeans
(Take Control), which include chemicals that actually help your heart's