Doctors who conducted the Framingham Heart Study observed that the men participating in this study who ate more fat suffered more heart attacks. Based on the study’s results, they concluded that the total amount of fat, along with cholesterol, should be reduced.
Fortunately the research continued and study after study showed that the real villain was saturated fat. In fact, those consuming large amounts of fat in the form of healthy oils had less risk of cardiovascular disease than those following and ultra-low fat, practically vegetarian diet.
What is saturated fat?
You can recognize saturated fat because they are solid at room temperature. Animal fats in particular are rich in this type of fat:
Whole dairy products
Coconut and palm kernel oil
For a more detailed explanation on foods high in saturated fat you can watch the video in this article.
What is the problem with saturated fat?
The foods rich in saturated fat have been proven clinically to raise levels of cholesterol in the blood. The culprits for these results are lauric and myristic acids abundant in animal fats. The type of saturated fat found in tropical oils such as coconut and palm kernel oil does not raise cholesterol levels.
And now, there is a new study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, that shows one more way saturated fat can damage our health. The study was posted by Endocrine Web on October 3, 2011.
New study explains why different types of fat have different health effects
Saturated fats activate a key metabolic pathway associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, while polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s shut this pathway down, according to a new study from a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego.
Not only do the findings provide an answer to a question that has plagued scientists for years – why are some fat beneficial while others are harmful? – it could also lead to the development of new medications that prevent a person from becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.
For decades, researchers have known that individuals who eat high levels of saturated fats tend to develop type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases at high rates, while those who consume more polyunsaturated fats tend to have better cardiovascular and metabolic health. However, given the fact that both types of fat are structurally somewhat similar, the reasons behind the different health effects were unclear.
After studying the impact of various types of fat on cultured cells, the researchers found that saturated fats activate a set of cellular receptor sites known as Jun kinases. Activation of these pathways has previously been linked to the development of chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes. Yet this is the first study to show that saturated fats play a direct role in their activation.
The study also revealed that polyunsaturated fats deactivate the receptors and prevent them from being switched on in the future, which helps explain the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of these nutrients.
The researchers said the findings could have significant implications for the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.
“These findings not only explain the long-standing enigma regarding the differential health effects of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids,” said lead researcher Michael Karin, PhD. “They also provide improved tools and a mechanistic framework for the potential development of dietary supplements to treat obesity, estimated to be worth billions of dollars per year.”
Seafood is one of the best sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Salmon, tuna and mackerel all have very high levels of omega-3s. Many plant foods, including nuts, also have a number of beneficial fats. A diet rich in these nutrients has previously been shown to reduce a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes. The new study helps explain why that is.