The Truth About Fats
Not all fats are equal. Learn which ones actually boost your health!
Bring on the Fish
For a while now, cold-water species of fish such as salmon, tuna, trout,
striped bass, sardines, and herring have taken the spotlight as the best
protein-rich food source because they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies show that people who eat such fish two times a week have less heart
disease, a reduced risk of cancer, and improvements in mental health,
particularly in mood function.
But there's a caveat.
"I'm also concerned about the mercury that these species of fish can
carry for pregnant women," says Kava. She recommends that pregnant women
stay away from shark, swordfish, and king mackerel because these bigger species
tend to present more of a risk.
If you're not pregnant but still concerned, Kava says small salmon species
give the most benefit with the least exposure to mercury.
Animal Fat to Avoid
We've long been told to eat less red meat, but new long-term studies of how
eating habits affect actual health measures do not bear out many of the popular
"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.