FAT! A killer?
Cardio heart disease is a major killer, especially in the UK and this killer has been linked to fat intake in our diets.
Fat is the most energy dense macronutrient providing 9 Kcals per a gram in comparison to carbohydrate and protein which only provides 4 Kcals per a gram. So, should we cut down on our fat intake? Is fat bad for us?
In a previous blog post I explained what DRVs are (Dietary Reference Values) which are set by the government. Our nutrient intake is calculated and intake values set to suit most of the healthy population. Considering that fat is to blame for cardio heart disease in the UK, according to the recent NDNS (The National Diet and Nutrition Survey) compared to the DRVs men are under consuming in their fat intake by 2% and women by 1%. Is it the amount of fat that is the contributor or the type of fat?
Fat plays an essential part of the human diet creating insulation for our vital organs, starting chemical reactions to promote growth and assisting in our immune functions. Fat also supports proteins and other aspects of basic metabolism. There is no question, we need fat.
You must have heard the term, good fat, and bad fat. Which is good? Which is bad? Is it that simple?
There are three types of fat, saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). Which one should we avoid? Is it that simple?
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential which means the body cannot synthesize them and they need to be obtained by our diets. However, again it is not as simple as we need PUFA, let’s eat food rich with them. Everyone has heard of omega-3 and omega-6. Both essential in the diet but needed in different amounts, as too high an intake of omega-6 has been proven to increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Both are important to the function of the body and are required in our diets however a balance of (5:1 to 10:1) is viewed as a suitable ratio.
Monounsaturated fatty acid sourced through plant and animal products has obtained the nick name of ‘good fat’. If only it was that simple; research has suggested that the effect has MUFA on cardio heart disease is linked to where the fat is sourced, plant base being optimal. A study by Nettleton et al, in 2016 showed that olive oil was associated with the reduction of cardio heart disease and other cardiovascular events. However, there is also evidence to suggest that diets high in MUFA can improve risk factors for metabolic diseases among patients with type-2 diabetes. There is not defining answer here people, more studies are needed.
Now to the bad boy of the group, the delicious saturated fatty acids. I mention that the general public are under consuming fat as a whole, though taking a closer look at the types of fat in the diet, the UK are over consuming saturated fatty acids by 1%. Wait! 1%, what can that do? A study by Björck, in 2016 showed that decreasing the intake of SFA in the diet by 1% decreases the total blood cholesterol. Even more interesting is a pooled analysis by Yanping et al in 2015 from 11 prospective cohort studies, indicated that replacing 5% of energy from SFAs with PUFAs was associated with a 13% lower risk of developing cardio heart disease. You can see where SFA got its bad boy rep from but we all need a little bit of danger in our lives.
This brings me to my moto, ‘good nutrition is about moderation’.