Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rethinking Saturated Fat

"Recent studies showed "no significant evidence" that saturated fat in the diet is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. The 21 studies analyzed included nearly 348,000 participants, most of whom were healthy when they were enrolled. They were followed for five to 23 years, during which 11,000 developed heart disease or had a stroke. Looking back at the dietary information collected from these thousands of participants, the investigators found no difference in the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or coronary vascular disease between those individuals with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. This goes completely against the conventional medical wisdom of the past 40 years. It now appears that many studies used to support the low-fat recommendation had serious flaws."

"In the meantime, as nutritionists have been recommending low-fat foods, consumption of added sweeteners, especially high-fructose corn syrup, has been steadily rising. This may be at least partially due to the fact that low-fat prepared foods are often highly sweetened. A study from Emory University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in April, 2010, showed that sweeteners appear to lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol and raise triglycerides. Both of these effects increase the risk of heart disease. What's more, through their direct effects on insulin and blood sugar, refined starches and sugars are more likely than saturated fat to be the main dietary cause of coronary heart disease and type-2 diabetes."

"Another study, published in the Dec. 21, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that a natural substance in dairy fat, trans-palmitoleic acid, may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (and, as result, of heart disease). The research team from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 3,700 men and women age 65 or older in a National Institutes of Health funded Cardiovascular Health Study who had been followed for 20 years to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults. The investigators found that participants who reported eating more whole-fat dairy products had higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid in their blood. Over the following years those men and women who had the higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid were about 60 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those whose blood levels of trans-palmitoleic were lowest."

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