Many people are confused about the consumption of fat when it comes to heart health. Too much fat raises cholesterol levels and ups your risk for heart disease. Not enough fat, however, has negative health effects, too. Your body needs healthy fat to give you energy and insulate you against heat loss. Every cell membrane contains fat. And fat is a component of myelin, the fatty material that sheathes your nerve cells and makes it possible for them to fire the electrical messages that enable you to think, see, speak, move, and perform daily tasks. Clearly, you need to have some fat in your diet!
If you’re worried about the best sources of fat, consider the results from a recent clinical trial. The study investigated the effect of consumption of fatty acids and selected nutrients, along with regular physical activity, on cardiovascular risk factors in rats. The rats were divided into seven groups: Group 1: regular food and drinking water; Group 2: same as Group 1 plus physical activity; Group 3: same as Group 2 plus calcium, vitamin D, and boron; Group 4: same as Group 3 plus canola oil; Group 5: same as Group 3 plus sunflower oil; Group 6: same as Group 3 plus mix of sunflower oil and canola oil; Group 7: same as Group 3 plus coconut oil.
The rats were treated for eight weeks, after which time the researchers performed some tests. Here are some of their interesting results:
— Group 5 consumed less food
— In Groups 6 and 7, plasma levels of cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol increased significantly
— Analysis of data among Groups 4 to 7 (the oil consuming groups) and Group 3 revealed significant differences in cholesterol, triglycerides, and C- reactive protein
— Levels of testosterone and free testosterone in Group 7 increased
The researchers say their findings show that canola oil and sunflower oil, separately, showed beneficial impacts on heart disease risk factors; whereas the combination of the two oils had negative impacts on lipid profile. Coconut oil seemed to provide health benefits in terms of cardiovascular protection.
The message seems to be to choose your fats carefully, but definitely include them in your diet. Fats can work for or against your health depending on which ones you use and how you combine them.
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