Fat confusion cleared up
Submitted by Jean Hardy from the Winter 1999 American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter
February 25, 1999
For years, health organizations have advised Americans to "cut the fat" when eating for disease prevention. But new reports suggest that very low fat diets may not be optimal for good health. AICR offers an easy list of "Dos and Don'ts" to consider when choosing fats.
DON'T eliminate all fat from your diet. We need some fat in our diets for good health but all fats are not equal when eating prevents cancer and other diseases. Limit consumption of fatty foods, particularly those of animal origin and choose modest amounts of appropriate vegetable oils such as olive and canola oils.
DO eat less saturated or animal fat. AICR's experts found a patter suggesting that diets high in animal fat and/or saturated fat possibly increase the risk of lung, colorectal, breast, uterine and prostate cancers. It also contributes to cardiovascular disease risk.
DON'T forego avocados or almonds. Eating these food in moderation will not add to your cancer risk nor your risk for heart disease. Research has shown that including monounsaturated fat in the diet actually increases good cholesterol levels.
DO choose olive oil or canola oil. Research proves that when you do add fat to foods in cooking, it's better to use unsaturated vegetable oils.
DON'T overindulge in any fat. Diets high in fat are usually higher in calories which can lead to obesity. Fat is an indirect risk factor for disease linked with excessive weight, including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. So while you shouldn't eliminate all fat from your diet, be moderate in your consumption.
Do try to avoid trans-fat. Trans-fat is found in processed cookies, chips, cakes and crackers, in commercially deep-fried foods such as french fries and doughnuts and in margarine and shortening. The amount of trans-fat does not appear on Nutrition Facts food labels, so watch our for "partially hydrogenated oils" in package ingredient lists.
The Bottom Line. Cutting all the fat in your diet isn't necessary - just choose your fats carefully and be moderate. Evidence shows that a shift toward a plant-based diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and beans and away from a diet of high-fat animal and processed foods, will help you achieve a longer and healthier life.