Good Fats Linked With Longer Life

It’s time to ditch unhealthy food fats once and for all.  A large cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that different types of dietary fat have different effects on mortality.  The study found that eating more saturated and trans fat (“bad” fats) were associated with a higher risk of dying while eating more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (“good” fats) were associated with a lower risk of dying.

What was particularly encouraging from this study was that participants who replaced just 5% of their calories from saturated fat with “good” poly- and monounsaturated fats were 27% less likely to die at an earlier age.  These findings are only observational meaning they don’t prove that dietary fat has an impact on death risk but they strongly indicate it does. 

Choosing your fat choices wisely is an investment in your health.  Some ways to do this include:

·         Eat less total fat, especially less saturated fat and trans fat

·         Cut back on foods that are high in cholesterol

·         Choose the kinds of fat that can help lower cholesterol levels

Fats that increase your chance of heart disease and stroke

Saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol increase your blood cholesterol and can cause a buildup of material clogging your blood vessels.  The blood supply to your heart can be blocked leading to a heart attack while a blockage in the blood vessels leading to your brain can result in a stroke.

Sources of saturated fat

It has been recommended by the American Heart Association to reduce intake of saturated fat to no more than 13 grams a day if following a 2000 calorie diet.  Foods high in saturated fat include:

·         Bacon and bacon grease

·         Butter

·         Chocolate

·         Coconut and coconut oil

·         Cream sauce

·         High-fat dairy products such as cheese, cream, ice cream, whole milk, 2% milk, and sour cream

·         Gravy make with meat drippings

·         Lard and shortening

·         High-fat meats like regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, and spareribs

·         Palm oil and palm kernel oil

·         Poultry skin

Sources of trans fats

Trans fats will be out of the U.S. food supply by 2018. Many food companies have already complied with this rule and often will state on their label if the product does not contain trans fat. In the meantime, stay away from these foods that may still contain this unhealthy fat:

·         Processed foods like snack and baked goods with hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil

·         Stick margarines

·         Shortening

·         Some fast food item such as French fries

Sources of cholesterol

In the past year, cholesterol has been found to not be as much of a contributor to cardiovascular disease as once thought.  Our body makes most of the cholesterol found in our blood with the rest coming from food sources.  Cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin and consumption of cholesterol should not exceed 300 milligrams a day.

Food sources include:

·         High-fat dairy products

·         Egg yolks

·         Liver and other organ meats

·         High-fat meat and poultry

·         Shellfish

·         Cheese

Healthy fats to choose more of

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually protect our hearts by lowering blood cholesterol.  Another kind of protective fat called omega-3 fatty acids are found in some kinds of fish.

Sources of monounsaturated fat

·         Avocado

·         Canola oil

·         Olive oil and olives

·         Nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios

·         Peanut butter and peanut oil

·         Sesame seeds

Sources of polyunsaturated fat

·         Corn oil

·         Cottonseed oil

·         Safflower oil

·         Soybean oil

·         Sunflower oil

·         Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

·         Soft (tub) margarines

 Sources of omega-3 fatty acids

 Some types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Eat fish, a couple of times a week by broiling, baking, or grilling – avoid frying.  Canned tuna or salmon are acceptable.

 ·         Albacore tuna

·         Herring

·         Mackerel

·         Trout

·         Salmon

·         Sardines