Happy Friday! As I mentioned in my post yesterday, my weekend plans drastically changed. I have a pretty heavy heart today but as the saying goes, life goes on and so my second FYI Friday link-up is going live as planned. If you don’t know about my link-up and want to know how to join check all the details here.
Today I wanted to talk about fat. Fat has been a controversial topic lately with a lot of current articles and research showing that traditional advice of low-fat diet or reducing saturated fat may not be the key to health.
Did anyone see the Times magazine cover from June? It was entitled. Eat Butter. Scientists labelled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong. A very provocative title!
This week I attended a session on Alberta’s newest nutrition practice guidelines for cardiovascular care. Talk about timing! A huge working group of Alberta Dietitians with consultation to other health professionals reviewed all the latest research on fats and cardiovascular disease to revamp our dietary messages. I love this because it means a whole lot less work for me. 😉
So what did I learn?
1. LDL cholesterol may not be the best marker
Traditionally, LDL cholesterol has been labelled as the “bad” cholesterol. If your number is high that means you need to adjust your diet or go on medication to reduce your risk of heart disease. However, this practice is becoming controversial because 50% of people who have a heart attack actually have a normal LDL cholesterol.
So were we wrong all this time? Yes and no. Part of what has changed is the understanding that there are two types of LDL cholesterol, small and large. It seems that a large amount of the small LDL is really what’s “bad” but at this time, there aren’t readily available testing to determine which type of LDL cholesterol you have.
2. Low-fat diets aren’t the best option
Recent evidence has shown that a low-fat diet does reduce LDL cholesterol, however that has not led to a reduction in overall cardiovascular events. The reasoning is that a low-fat diet often equates to a high-carb diet. When fat in the diet is replaced by large amount of simple carbohydrates this appears to have a negative effect on cardiovascular health.
The focus of the diet shouldn’t be low-fat instead it should be on eating healthy, unsaturated fats (though saturated fats in moderate amounts are okay). Particular attentions should be made to Omega-3 fats as these have cardio-protective qualities.
3. Trans fats are bad
Hurray! The nutrition community got something right. Our advice to avoid trans-fats remains in place.
4. Mediterranean diet pattern is best
When evaluating a bunch of different dietary patterns, the Mediterranean diet came on top for cardiovascular health and adherence. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat like an Italian?
The Mediterranean diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, legumes, nuts and unsaturated fats. Red meat and sweets are limited.
Have your views on fats changed?