Olympic Weightlifting Resource

Good Fats, Bad Fats
It seems in regards to fat we have a love hate relationship with it. Initially with the invention of the low fat diet, fat was hated and was to be avoided at all costs. Some people even made it seem like if you ate any fat what so ever that your heart explode in your chest and that would be it. However, the understanding of the human body and nutrition has progressed and we have a better understanding of fat today then in previous times. Today fat is mostly put into two categories, Good Fat and Bad Fat. This article will explore the traditional view of Fat.

Bad Fats
The common type of fats that fall into the bad fats category is saturated and trans fat. Trans fat are considered the worst offender because of the health problems that can be cause by consumption of trans fat. Trans fat are manufactured and not natural. Hydrogen is added to polyunsaturated fats at room temperature to make them solid. When looking at the ingredients list trans fats are often labeled as “Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil” or another variation of that, but looking for the word Hydrogenated is a clue that it contains trans fats. Some of the negative health problems associated with trans fat are affects immune response, negatively affects cholesterol, increases blood insulin levels in response to glucose, and many other problems (Journal of AHA). Most processed food will contain trans fat so it is best to avoid trans fat whenever possible.

Another common type of fat that is considered a bad fat is saturated fat. Saturated fat is most commonly food in dairy foods and meat such as butter, milk, cheese, beef, etc. The argument for consuming less saturated fat is that saturated fat will raise LDL cholesterol (the bad one), increase risk of heart disease, and negatively affecting insulin factors which could lead to diabetes and other chronic health issues. Some nutritionists and health professionals claim that saturated fat should only account for roughly 10 percent of total fat intake daily. However, there is a maverick theory in regards to role saturated fat and cholesterol play on heart disease. Not to delve into it too much, but the theory of the book is based upon how the current heart theory was derived from flawed/inaccurate data. The book is entitled The Cholesterol Myths : Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease and makes for an interesting read. However, the majority of scientists/nutritionists view on saturated fat is that it should not account for a large percentage of daily dietary fat.

Good Fats
Good fats are the type of fat that should make up the majority of daily dietary fat intake. Within the category of good fats there are two types of fat, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fats are naturally occurring and can be found in foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil, grape seed oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, etc. A believed health benefit of monounsaturated fat is protection against heart disease. Monounsaturated fat provides essentially fatty acids for the development of body cells and maintenance of healthy skin. The “Mediterranean Diet” has oil olive as a main component of the diet and it is believed that the oil olive helps people live longer because of the protection against heart disease. There is also believed to be a certain amount of protection against breast cancer and colon cancer.

Polyunsaturated fats are also naturally occurring and can be found in foods such as salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, and other fishes, soybeans, fish oil, etc. Similar to monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats have been show to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. A British study done in 2005 showed that an increase in consumption of polyunsaturated fat helped lower the risk for CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) (Zatonski). It has become clear that consumption of healthy fats will lead to a better quality of live than if one consumed predominantly unhealthy bad fats in their diet.

However, there is also discussion about the importance of the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in diets. A quote from a research article sums up the position good, "Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established" (Biomed Pharmacother). It has been speculated that an increase in polyunsaturated omega 6 "promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases," (Biomed Pharmacother). The article also suggests that a ratio of 4:1 (omega 6:omega 3) would be more favorable in the prevention of diseases. It is easy to see how something as simple as fat can turn into a complex issue with multiple areas that need to be investigated.

References:
Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.

Journal of the American Heart Association. Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 21:1233-1237.

Zatonski, W; Willett, W. Changes in dietary fat and declining coronary heart disease in Poland: population based study. British Medical Journal. July 23, 2005. 331:187-188.