Bad Fats-Trans fat & Saturated fat in large amounts
It’s pretty universally accepted in nutrition and health circles that saturated and trans fats are bad for humans due to their ability to raise cholesterol, cause thickening of the arteries and increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fats aside however im going to be a bit controversial here and though a spanner in the works so to speak.
Humans have evolved primarily on a diet relatively high in saturated fat as during hunter gatherer times the diet was high in animal proteins that typically contain high levels of saturated fats-think red meats for example. Just by googling ‘saturated fat and research’ for example and delving into the subject you will see that the consensus is not clear. For example a recent study conducted by the American Journal of Nutrition http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract sites no link between saturated fat and heart disease and stroke in its conclusion.
The researchers went through a large volume of previous studies looking at the relationship between dietary saturated fat, heart disease and stroke. They narrowed it down to the best quality studies which were all prospective and looked not at risk markers, but actually disease. The 21 studies in question looked at a total of 347,747 healthy participants, 11,006 of which developed cardiovascular disease or stroke during the 5-23 year follow up. The conclusion stated no statistical link between saturated fats and heart disease or stroke.
Whilst I’m not going to suggest you load up on all the saturated fat you can get your hands on, it’s always worth taking a step back, questioning the bigger picture and looking at all available research before jumping on the saturated fat bandwagon!
With trans fats however it’s a different story. The consumption of hydrogenated trans fats has been linked to increasing the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of ‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of ‘Good’ HDL cholesterol. Hydrogenated fats are typically found in foodstuff such as margarine, baking products for example biscuits and snack bars and throughout many types of fast food. Hydrogenated fats are created by though the process of passing hydrogen through oils in the presence of heat known as ‘hydrogenation’ to improve texture and shelf life or many products.
It’s safe to say that foods that contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats should be avoided or kept to a minimum wherever possible.