Replacing Saturated Fats with Unsaturated Fats May Reduce Mortality Risk

Eating foods that are high in fat won’t necessarily make you fat, but it’s true that some high-fat foods are healthier than others. A recent Harvard study just confirmed that the longstanding diet rule of “good fats” over “bad fats” may actually be more significant than we thought, suggesting that a diet focused on good unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) rather than saturated and trans fats could literally mean the difference between living a long, healthy life or suffering from a range of health conditions that contribute to dying earlier.

The study involved taking data from 126,233 male and female health professionals, that included details every 2 to 4 years about their eating habits, lifestyle and general wellbeing over the course of 32 years (from 1980 to 2012). Over those 32 years, 33,304 of people had passed away.

When researchers took a closer look at the participants’ eating habits, they found that the type of fat consumed was linked to to a higher or lower risk of mortality. It turns out that the more saturated fat they consumed, the greater their risk of death was from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease or respiratory disease.

The mortality risk increased by about 8 percent for every 5 percent increase of saturated fat consumption. On the other hand, the more that participants consumed unsaturated fat, the lower their risk of death was from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease or respiratory disease.

According to the researchers, those who replace just 5 percent of their calories that come from saturated and trans fat instead with monounsaturated fat could help decease their risk of death by 13 percent. And if those calories come from polyunsaturated fat, the risk drops even lower to 27 percent.

The researchers noted that the percentage difference between the benefits of polyunsaturated fat versus monounsaturated fat might have to do with sources of monounsaturated fat coming from animal food products like dairy products and red meat when it comes to the average American diet. These are also sources of saturated fat, so more research is needed to further examine the real benefits of monounsaturated fat.

Both polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats help with normal bodily functioning. They’re necessary for constructing cell membranes and providing your body with nutrients.

Foods highest in polyunsaturated fat include plant-based oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil and corn oil. Cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, herring) and some nuts and seeds (walnuts, sunflower seeds) are also good sources.

Plant-based sources of monounsaturated fat include olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil and peanut oil. Avocados are also a very popular and healthy source of monounsaturated fat. Many nuts and seeds are good sources as well.

Research findings on the effects of fat consumption continues to be mixed and rarely tells the whole story. At this point, researchers can only say that a link between type of fat consumption and mortality risk exists  — not that it causes it.

A little bit of “bad” fat on rare occasions won’t kill you. Until there’s more conclusive evidence to show exactly how much good and bad fat we should or shouldn’t be consuming, the old saying still stands — everything in moderation!

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72 comments

John B
John B1 years ago

Thanks Elise for proving the info and links.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

noted

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela2 years ago

Noted

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Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago

Thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Rhonda C.
.2 years ago

TYFS:)

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Maxine Stopfer
Maxine Stopfer2 years ago

My head is spinning with all the talk of fats. Just read about coconut oil and olive oil. Now reading about saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Too many articles about fats.

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