Dr. Tasneem Pirani-Sheriff, M.Sc, ND

Room G, Suite 201 - 3701 Hastings St

Burnaby, BC   V5C 2H6

778-805-58ND (5863)

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • linkedin

©2016 BY DR. TASNEEM PIRANI-SHERIFF, M.Sc, ND.

Fat - Horrible or Healthy?!

Is consuming fat dangerous for our health? Though many people feel guilty and even scared about eating fat, the short answer to this question is no, fats are not dangerous for our health. In fact, they are essential! In order to achieve optimal health, we require a balance of all three main nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

 

Fats have several health benefits, some of which are required for proper functioning of our bodies. Not only does fat provide the most densely packed source of energy, it can also act as a storage form of energy, allowing us to survive in case of long periods of starvation. This storage form of fat also plays a structural role in protecting our vital organs from damage in case of injury and a plays a functional role in helping regulate our body temperature. Fats are also necessary for the absorption of our fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) and act as building blocks for the creation of hormones and healthy skin.

 

Though the amount of fat is a necessary consideration, the type and food source of the fat that we choose to consume has equally significant effects. Fats can generally be divided into four categories: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats. All of these fats play a fundamental role in either helping or harming our health.

 

Monounsaturated fats found in healthy food sources such as olive oil, avocado and nuts have a beneficial effect on regulating blood sugars and insulin levels, thus being helpful in Type II diabetes(1). Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, nuts and sunflower oil. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats also play a role in improving cholesterol levels and thus may help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease(2).

 

Two types of polyunsaturated fats make up an especially important part of our diet. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 are required for our health, particularly because we are unable to synthesize them in our body and must obtain them from food. Omega-6 is more readily available in our diets and can be found in vegetable oils and various nuts and seeds. Omega-3 is highest in seafood, flaxseed and walnuts. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has been suggested to be 1:4 as they both play a role in managing inflammation in our body, with omega-3 being typically more anti-inflammatory in nature. Not only does omega-3 help decrease the risk of heart attack(2, 3, 4, 5), heart disease(5, 6, 7) and stroke(8, 9), it also provides therapeutic effects in conditions such as depression(10), rheumatoid arthritis(11), dementia(12), diabetes(7), kidney disease(13), macular degeneration(14, 15) and many more. Conditions of dis-ease may occur when this ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 becomes more heavily weighted to one side, like the 20:1 ratio that is more common in North American style diets(16).

 

Both trans fats and saturated fats have been reported to be bad for our health, however new research is confirming that only half of this story is true. Trans fats are uncommon in nature, though they are often found in processed foods made with hydrogenated oil. Trans fats are detrimental to our health as they tend to increase inflammation(17), and promote unhealthy cholesterol levels(18), and cardiovascular disease(17, 19, 20). However, saturated fats have been unfairly emphasized to be bad, when in fact, they can be beneficial – depending on the source. Saturated fats that come from processed hydrogenated foods are detrimental and should be avoided. On the other hand, saturated fat from healthy sources such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee and palm oil can be beneficial to health. Coconut oil and palm oil contain a form of fat called medium chain triglycerides, which have been found to be of benefit with regard to increased weight loss, improved gut bacteria and intestinal function(21, 22), as well as improved fasting insulin levels and heart function in patients with Type II Diabetes(23). Grass-fed butter and ghee contain butyrate which also plays an important role in gut health by reducing inflammation, reinforcing our intestinal defense barriers, improving gut motility and function(24, 25). Butyrate beneficial effects have been shown to be helpful for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease and even in helping prevent colorectal cancer(26, 27).

 

Though fats have been made to be dangerous and unhealthy, most are in fact quite the opposite. Fats are essential for our overall health and function. Rather than being fearful of what we consume, it is better for us to be mindful of the source and the type of fats that we consume as they determine the effects that fats have in our body.

 

 

References

  1. Bozzetto L, Alderisio A, Giorgini M, Barone F, Giacco A, Riccardi G, Rivellese AA, Annuzzi G. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Glycemic Response to a High-Glycemic Index Meal in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care. 2016 Apr;39(4):518-24

  2. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Harvard Health Publications: The family health guide 2015. Retrieved on June 4, 2016 from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

  3. Russo GL. Dietary n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: from biochemistry to clinical implications in cardiovascular prevention. Biochem Pharmacol 2009;77(6):937-46.

  4. Baylin A, Kabagambe EK, Ascherio A, Spiegelman D, Campos H. Adipose tissue alpha-linolenic acid and nonfatal acute myocardial infarction in Costa Rica. Circulation 2003;107(12):1586-91.

  5. König A, Bouzan C, Cohen JT, Connor WE, Kris-Etherton PM, Gray GM, Lawrence RS, Savitz DA, Teutsch SM. A quantitative analysis of fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality. Am J Prev Med 2005;29(4):335-46.

  6. Zhao Y-T, Chen Q, Sun Y-X, Li X-B, Zhang P, Xu Y, Guo J-H. Prevention of sudden cardiac death with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann Med 2009;41(4):301-10.

  7. Hu FB, Cho E, Rexrode KM, Albert CM, Manson JE. Fish and long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease and total mortality in diabetic women. Circulation 2003;107(14):1852-7.

  8. He K, Rimm EB, Merchant A, Rosner BA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Ascherio A. Fish consumption and risk of stroke in men. JAMA 2002;288(24):3130-6.

  9. Bouzan C, Cohen JT, Connor WE, Kris-Etherton PM, Gray GM, König A, Lawrence RS, Savitz DA, Teutsch SM. A quantitative analysis of fish consumption and stroke risk. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1995;273(1):257-65.

  10. Sarris J, Murphy J, Mischoulon D, Papakostas GI, Fava M, Berk M, Ng CH. Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. Am J Psychiatry 2016;173(6):575-87

  11. Galarraga B, Ho M, Youssef H M, Hill A, McMahon H, Hall C, Ogston S, Nuki G, Belch J J F. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2008;47(5):665-9.

  12. van Gelder BM, Tijhuis M, Kalmijn S, Kromhout D. Fish consumption, n-3 fatty acids, and subsequent 5-y cognitive decline in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85(4):1142-7.

  13. Sulikowska B, Niewegłowski T, Manitius J, Lysiak-Szydłowska W, Rutkowski B. Effect of 12-month therapy with omega-3 polyunsaturated acids on glomerular filtration response to dopamine in IgA nephropathy. Am J Nephrol 2004;24(5):474-82.

  14. Feher J, Kovacs B, Kovacs I, Schveoller M, Papale A, Balacco Gabrieli A. Improvement of visual functions and fundus alterations in early age-related macular degeneration treated with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10. Ophthalmologica 2005;219(3):154-66

  15. Chong E W-T, Robman LD, Simpson J A, Hodge A M, Aung KZ, Dolphin TK, English DR, Giles GG, Guymer RH. Fat consumption and its association with age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol 2009;127(5):674-80.

  16. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids and athletics. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007;6(4):230-6.

  17. Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB, King IB, Lawler RL, McDonald GB, Levy WC. Trans fatty acids and systemic inflammation in heart failure. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1521–5.

  18. Kris-Etherton PM, Pearson TA, Wan Y, Hargrove RL, Moriarty K, Fishell V, Etherton TD. High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1009-15.

  19. Ganguly R, Pierce GN. Trans fat involvement in cardiovascular disease. Mol Nutr Food Res 2012;56:1090–6.

  20. Bassett CMC, McCullough RS, Edel AL, Maddaford TG, Dibrov E, Blackwood DP, et al. Trans fatty acids in the diet stimulate atherosclerosis. Metabolism 2009;58:1802–8.

  21. St-Onge MP and Jones PJH. Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue International Journal of Obesity 2003;27:1565–1571

  22. Rial SA, Karelis AD, Bergeron KF, Mounier C. Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients 2016;8(5):281.

  23. Airhart S, Cade WT, Jiang H, Coggan AR, Racette SB, Korenblat K, Spearie CA, Waller S, O’Connor R, Bashir A, Ory DS. A Diet Rich in Medium-chain Fatty Acids Improves Systolic Function and Alters the Lipidomic Profile in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: a Pilot Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2015; 101(2):504-512

  24. Canani RB, Di Costanzo M, Leone L, Pedata M, Meli R, Calignano A. Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar 28; 17(12): 1519–1528.

  25. Chang PV, Hao L, Offermanns S, and Medzhitov R. The microbial metabolite butyrate regulates intestinal macrophage function via histone deacetylase inhibition. PNAS 2014;111(6):2247-2252

  26. Segain JP, De La Blétiere DR, Bourreille A, Leray V, Gervois N, Rosales C, Ferrier L, Bonnet C, Blottiere HM, Galmiche JP. Butyrate inhibits inflammatory responses through NFκB inhibition: implications for Crohn's disease. Gut. 2000;47(3):397-403.

  27. Lührs H, Gerke T, Müller JG, Melcher R, Schauber J, Boxberger F, Scheppach W, Menzel T. Butyrate inhibits NF-κB activation in lamina propria macrophages of patients with ulcerative colitis. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology. 2002;37(4):458-66.

 

Please reload

Recent Posts

Please reload

Archive

Please reload

Tags

Please reload