Earlier this year, a study challenged the long-held belief that eating a diet low in saturated fats was bad. Combining the results of many previous studies, it concluded that low consumption of saturated fats and high consumption of polyunsaturated fats (the current diet recommended by the American Heart Association) did not actually lower risk of heart disease. How can that be?
First, the article was not done very well and has drawn a lot of criticism. The details are very technical and beyond the purpose of this blog. We will just leave it with the opinion that their conclusions may not be the most accurate.
But the results do remind us to look more closely at individual food choices when replacing saturated fat. Research has documented that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates is not beneficial to health, but replacing them with mono- or polyunsaturated fats is. So, we don’t necessarily need to eat a diet lower in total fat. We need to eat a diet with a different mix of fats.
How do we do that?
-Replace butter or margarine with oils when possible. Olive oil, canola oil, and other vegetable oils are a better choice.
-Nuts can be a good choice of healthy fats. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts all seem to be heart healthy.
-Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats. They also are great sources of fiber, antioxidants, and plant sterols which can also be beneficial for heart health.
-While eating carbohydrates is ok, try to keep it in control. I like to think of dividing the plate into quarters and keeping carbohydrates to one quarter of the plate.
The bottom line is fat in general is not as bad as we used to think. The most important thing is keeping the proportion of types of fats in balance.
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!