The debate on dietary fats will be never ending. New questions raised by recent research are whether dietary fat consumption can change behaviors or affect the brain? A recent study attempted to address these questions when it showed how the consumption of high fat foods affected the behavior of mice involved in the study.
The study found that an increase in high fat levels in the gut of laboratory mice led to problems such as increased anxiety and impaired memory. The implication for humans is the possibility of impaired brain health when the gastrointestinal tracks contain too much dietary fat. The research was reported in Biological Psychiatry, the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry.
Another research study on fat consumption with mice conducted at Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute found that male laboratory mice developed brain inflammation and heart disease while the females didn’t.
However, further research is necessary as conflicting research about the role of dietary fat and its ability to cause health issues continues to emerge. According to Jeff Volek of The Ohio State University, another study found that “doubling or even nearly tripling saturated fat in the diet does not drive up total levels of saturated fat in the blood.” The culprit instead was found to be too many carbohydrates.
Instead, this study which was published in the Nov. 21, 2014 issue of the journal, PLOS One found that consuming a very low-carb diet resulted in the body burning more saturated fat.
The research will continue but in the meantime making smart dietary decisions when it comes to fats is important. Of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) fat is the highest in calories. Eating too much fat can result in weight gain and the higher incidences of overall poor health. Excess fat is said to be a factor in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and possibly cancer.
The most potentially harmful forms of dietary fat are most saturated fats and trans-fat. Saturated fats raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. These fats are found mainly in red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products.
Trans-fat comes from oils that have gone through the hydrogenation process which makes oils easier to cook with and last longer without spoiling. However, the process can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and the risk for cardiovascular disease.
For healthier dietary fats, it’s best to stick with monounsaturated fat of MUFA’s or polyunsaturated fats also known as PUFA’s. These are liquid at room temperature and include plant based oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil. Some health benefits to eating these oils in moderation include helping to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes or benefiting insulin levels and blood sugar.
Omega-3 fatty acids is another type of polyunsaturated oil that may be especially beneficial to the heart. These oils are found in some fatty fish including salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in ground flaxseed or flax oils, nuts and walnuts, butternuts and sunflower seeds.