Tag Archives: saturated fat

Can Fish Oil Really Prevent Heart Disease?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwWe are often asked about the role of fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids in general, for the prevention of heart and circulatory disease.   I posted a video addressing this question on the video blogging site Vidoyen.com (clinic here to review). This video addresses the largest research study to date looking specifically at the role of fish oil and prevention. Unfortunately, it did show that the positive role of fish oil may be less than suggested in the past, but there could be a role for specific patients.  As always, yo should talk to your doctor about all of your supplements, to help learn which may play a role for your specific health conditions (and to ensure that there are no unwanted interactions with other medications or health conditions).

you can also find videos the dressing wine, saturated fats, and the new cholesterol medications on the side.  Thanks for your interest and heart disease prevention!

Is Butter really “Back”? Not exactly. . . .

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIf you are perplexed by some the recent media stories claiming that butter (and other saturated fats) may not be so bad (such as this article from the New York Times last year) – here is an excellent article from a trusted, knowledgeable resource – the Harvard School of Public Health – that clarifies the issue (click here for article).

Here is the conclusion of the article:

In the case of dietary fat, most scientists do agree on a number of points. First, eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent insulin resistance. Second, replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates will not reduce heart disease risk. Third, olive oil, canola oil, and soybean oil are good for you—as are nuts (especially walnuts), which, while they include some saturated fat, are also high in unsaturated fat, tipping the balance in their favor. Finally, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for many biological processes—from building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function—and we should eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, to obtain adequate amounts of both fatty acids.

Other, finer points are still unclear. For instance, monounsaturated fat is believed to lower risk for heart disease. But it’s difficult to study in Western populations, because most people get their monounsaturated fat from meat and dairy, which are also full of saturated fat. Still, people can choose from a variety of monounsaturated-fat-rich foods, such as peanuts and most tree nuts, avocados, and, of course, olive oil. And though scientists agree that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential, they debate how much of each we actually need.

As you can see, the point is not that butter is good – it’s that replacing it with other processed foods such as refined carbohydrates won’t improve your health.

Here is my earlier post on saturated fats, along with links to a useful video and other resources.

Here is more information about a heart healthy diet.


Saturated Fat: Old Foe, or New Friend?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwYou may have seen some of the recent media articles that address the debate over saturated fat. This is based on some newly published research that suggests that adults who reduce their intake of saturated fats don’t necessarily reduce the heart risk. Popular media has covered this widely, and even the New York Times declared that “Butter is Back”. So does that mean we now have the green light to load up on red meat, butter, and other sources of saturated fat?

The short answer is – probably not. I recently addressed this topic on the video blogging site Vidoyen.com, which you can view by clicking here. Many nutrition and public health experts, who certainly have more expertise than myself, have also weighed in (one of my favorites, Dr. David Katz, has this video and this excellent article which help rebut the “butter is back” theory). The consensus is that this recent research, which was a pooled analysis of prior research, not new data, has some serious flaws. Here is what the “experts” seem to conclude:

1. Saturated fattty acids (or SFA, such as red meat, cheese, and butter) have long been known to be linked to the development of heart disease.

2. While reducing SFA can reduce heart risk, what is important is how the “bad” fats are replaced – many diets (and people) tend to increase intake of carbohydrates – especially the processed kind, which are probably worse for long term heath. That is why many “low fat” foods really don’t improve your health- they replace the SFA with bad carbs instead.

3. The key seems to be to replace the SFA with “good” fats instead – that is, unsaturated fatty acids such as nuts, olive and other vegetable oils, and fish. When this has been studied, there appears to be a beneficial effect on heart risk and overall health. In fact, this is the exact goal of the Mediterranean Diet, which has been studied extensively and shown to reduce heart risk.

More importantly, think less about the “components” of your diet, and focus more on eating whole foods. For example, butter may actually be better than some of the processed spreads, but not as good as olive or vegetable oil. So the “old foe” is still a “new foe”!

Here are some more links to our articles on diet and nutrition:

Our overall guide to a heart healthy diet

Our top 10 eating tips

Nutrition Counts

The perils of carbohydrates