Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Here's Some Info to Help You Face the Fat Facts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Here's Some Info to Help You Face the Fat Facts

Article excerpt

If you're confused about fats, you're in good company, says Consumer Reports. With research coming in at breakneck speed in recent years, even experts have a hard time agreeing about which fats we should consume, and in what exact proportions, to improve our health and prevent chronic disease.

Here's what the strongest evidence says about healthy choices.

* Are saturated fats still "bad"? Yes, the best available evidence suggests that saturated fat found in such food as meat, full-fat cheese and cake is still worse for you than the unsaturated fat in vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. According to a recent report from the United Nations, there is convincing evidence that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart disease.

There's an important caveat: When cutting saturated fats, substitute with healthful alternatives, not refined carbohydrates, which are found in such items as white bread, pizza and snack foods. Otherwise, you probably won't reduce your risk of heart disease and may well increase it, according to the U.N. report.

* Which are better: mono- or polyunsaturated oils? Nutritionists can't agree about this one. On the one hand, there is plenty of evidence to support the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which calls for generous amounts of olive oil, a mostly monounsaturated fat. But when researchers make direct comparisons of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, they generally find stronger evidence of a cardio-protective effect for polyunsaturated fat, found abundantly in safflower, soybean and sunflower oils.

* Should I consider the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio? Omega-6 and omega-3 are two types of polyunsaturated fat -- a "good" fat. Many studies suggest that diets rich in two omega-3 fats -- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in high levels in fish -- are linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease. …

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