Eat More Unsaturated Fats for a Healthier Life

Health experts have persistently scrutinized the negative impact dietary fats have on cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions. Recently, however, researchers have shed a positive light on certain types of dietary fats – specifically the health benefits of consuming more unsaturated fat.

Health experts have persistently scrutinized the negative impact dietary fats have on cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions. Recently, however, researchers have shed a positive light on certain types of dietary fats — specifically the health benefits of consuming more unsaturated fat.

“There has been a widespread confusion in the biomedical community and the general public in the last couple of years about the health benefits of specific types of fat in the diet,” said Dong Wang, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, and colleagues.

According to the AHA, saturated fats primarily come from: beef, lamb, pork, butter, cream, cheese, 2% milk, coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.

However, the better half of dietary fats, unsaturated fat, include salmon, trout, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil.

To examine the links between specific dietary fats with total and cause-specific mortality, Wang and colleagues followed 126,233 people from the Nurse’s health Study for more than 30 years. The participants were required to answer survey questions every 2-4 years about their diet, lifestyle, and overall health.

Results showed that over the course of 32 years, 33, 304 participants died, which prompted further investigation into the relationship between fat type in the participants’ diets and overall deaths among the group.

The team found that “high intake of unsaturated fats — which included both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats – was linked with an 11-19% lower risk of mortality, compared with the same number of calories from carbohydrates”. More specifically, omega-6 fatty acids found in most plant oils and omega-3 fatty acids from fish, soy, and canola oils, were associated with lower risk of death.

Researchers had highlighted the health effects with specific types of fat depended on their replacement fats. For instance, the participants who replaced saturated fats with unsaturated fats exhibited a much lower overall risk of death and a lower risk of death from CVD, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and respiratory disease.

While experts further dissect what this research means for ever day diet, the AHA recommend that healthy people older than two years eat 25-35% of their total daily calories as fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.