Trans Fats and Low Fat Diets

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Trans Fats are a form of unsaturated fat, but because of their different molecular arrangement they have a very different biological effect.  There is  no evidence of trans fats contributing to positive health and have been linked to several negative health effects.  These effects include diabetes and heart disease, and they can occur with a very small amount of consumption. (Derbyshire)  I personally avoid consuming any trans fats.Read More »

Omega 3’s: Fishy Fats

Omega 3 fatty acids have recently been touted as almost a universal cure all, and the solution to many of America’s problems with fats.  Omega 3’s are a polyunsaturated fat, however, I separated them from my previous post.  The majority of polyunsaturated fats that Americans consume are Omega 6, so I separated Omega 3s in order to truly consider their heath impacts.  Polyunsaturated fats are defined by where the first double bond is located, and that is where the difference between Omega 3 and Omega 6 comes from, where the double bond is located (American Dietetic Association 1599).  The current dietary recommendations of the Mayo Clinic, the ADA, and Willett, all state that increased consumption of Omega 3’s is important for health (American Dietetic Association 1599; Willett and Skerrett; Mayo Clinic Staff).Read More »

Unsaturated Fats: The Mediterranean Savior?

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Unsaturated fats are often pushed as a replacement for the allegedly dangerous saturated fats that people consume.  There are two primary types of unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats; they are named based on whether they have one or more double bonds.  A fat with only a single double bond is considered monounsaturated and a fat with multiple double bonds is considered polyunsaturated.  Here we are going to primarily focus on polyunsaturated fats, which are often pitched as a healthful alternative to saturated fats.  However, some scientists believe that consumption of polyunsaturated fats can actually increase the risk of cardiovascular heart disease, and the Institute of Medicine recommends no more than one tenth of your calories coming from this source (Mozaffarian, Micha and Wallace 2).Read More »

Introduction to Dietary Fats

Note: This article is more about technical basics than advice.  Read if you want to understand more about the underlying science.

One of the most confusing aspects of modern nutrition is fat.  The recommendations seem to be more liquid than the ocean, so trying to figure out what to do is exhausting and sometimes nearly impossible.  Walk into a store and you will see hundreds of items advertising themselves as “Fat-Free”, “Reduced Fat”, “Low Fat”, and “Fat removed”.  Looking at these it would be easy to assume that fats are dangerous and we must be incredibly careful with their consumption.  However, as with most things in life, the truth is more complicated than that.    Fats are one of the basic nutrients required for survival.  Fats are critically important to the maintenance of the myelin sheaths on nerves.  It is also critically important for certain vitamins as they are fat soluble, without enough fat certain vitamins cannot be processed (Mayo Clinic Staff).  Without fats there is an immediate decline in human health.  Knowing how important these fats are the movement towards a low fat diet seems a little perplexing.  However low fat advocates believe that because fat is high in calories it is easy for it to contribute to weight gain, and because excess weight causes significant health problems it is therefore important to limit fat (Mayo Clinic Staff).  In this first article in this series I am going to discuss some general classifications for fats.

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