Updated: Jan 24
As you may have heard living on an unhealthy diet can lead to medical complications such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart diseases. A common misconception that you may have heard is that fats are bad for your health and that they should be avoided. This is partly true but not entirely, in fact, fats are vital for our bodies to function.
Some important vitamins such as vitamin A which plays an important role in enhancing the immune system and is crucial for vision, is fat soluble. Another vitamin that is fat soluble is vitamin D which protects us against different diseases such as diabetes type 2 by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
As for what kind of fats are good and bad, this is a question in which we do not have a certain answer for. What research have been suggesting up until now is that there is a clear correlation between the consumption of trans fatty acids and coronary heart diseases. In patients that have died of CHD, high concentrations of trans fatty acids have been found in their fatty deposits.
Other risk factors have been tested and non proved a correlation to CHD thus we can be almost certain that trans fatty acids causes CHD. There is also a positive correlation between saturated fatty acids and CHD. Though, this can be discussed since many other factors can contribute to this correlation such as low intake of dietary fibres in combination with saturated fatty acids, which actually causes CHD. As some studies have shown a correlation between saturated fatty acids and CHD, there are also cases that disproves this such as the Maasai of Kenya. These people have a diet high in saturated fatty acids but the rates of CHD here is low.
We have talked about the correlation between trans fatty acids but how about the isomer cis fatty acid? Well cis monounsaturated fatty acids have actually been shown to have a negative correlation to CHD, but like mentioned earlier, other factors can contribute to this negative correlation. Countries around the Mediterranian typically show low rates of CHD and this is thought to be due to their high intake of cis monounsaturated fatty acids. But important to keep in mind is that genetic factors around this population could explain the CHD rates.
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