Fat Choices Can Make a Difference – A Big Fat Difference

November 10, 2009 in Blog Recipes, Diabetes, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean, Nutrition by Joyce Bunderson

The Bottom Line First: As a result of the study that I cite below, and many other studies, I suggest that you consider moving away from foods rich in saturated fats and toward those providing monounsaturated fatty acids; like olive oil and canola oil. Reducing the amount of butter, cheese, meat and increasing olives, avocado, nuts, some legumes and olive oil may lower your risk of metabolic syndrome.

It’s really challenging to make this type of change if you eat out frequently. Food processors often use saturated fats because they’re cheap; in addition, they can be used and reused without breaking down; saturated fats last for a long time on the shelf; and saturated fats can be used with high heat because of the high smoke point. Monounsaturates, on the other hand, have a low smoke point and break down more easily. I suggest that the expense and extra care needed in using monounsaturates, yields benefits that far outweigh those concerns. Long-term health is a very worthy goal/benefit.

If you eat in restaurants frequently, maybe a good decision is to try to increase the number of times that you eat at home. In your home cooking strive to use more extra virgin olive oil in your cooking. Dr. Grandma's Fresh Apples Muffins with extra virgin olive oil are a good way to get more MUFA's in your diet. Dice a couple apples and enjoy.

Researchers in the Netherlands compared how saturated fats (think meat, butter, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cheese, to name a few) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) (think olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocado, and olives). The researchers were trying to decide if those two large classifications of fats acted differently as related to insulin sensitivity (how readily insulin works); whether one type of fat would raise the bad fats in the blood more than the other (like LDL cholesterol – the bad type of cholesterol, if you will); and the looked for any resulting outcomes to those at risk of metabolic syndrome (a precursor for diabetes and heart disease).

They found benefits in the group that had the MUFAs; lower LDL-Cholesterol (the bad stuff) and less inflammation (metabolic syndrome). They did not find improved insulin sensitivity, but are speculating that the research period may not have been long enough to see that benefit.

If you want to read the details of the study conducted in the Netherlands, go to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The title is: A saturated fatty acid–rich diet induces an obesity-linked proinflammatory gene expression profile in adipose tissue of subjects at risk of metabolic syndrome1,2,3 The authors are: Susan J van Dijk, and others. The Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Netherlands. The study was supported by the Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation (20060052), the Netherlands Heart Foundation (2003B068), and the Netherlands Nutrigenomics Consortium. Am J Clin Nutr (October 14, 2009)