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GOOD FATS AND BAD FATS

A heart attack (and probably also cancer)- preventing diet is low in saturated and partially hydrogenated fats, low in extracted oils and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats as they are found in nature: in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts and little of everything else.

There are two major categories called saturated and polyunsaturated fats. When you take in more calories than your body needs, saturated fats raise cholesterol and increase risk for heart attacks. (When you do not take in extra calories, saturated fats do not raise cholesterol. Saturated fats are broken down in your body into acetone units that are burned for energy and are harmless. However, if you take in more calories than you need, the extra calories are converted to cholesterol to cause heart attacks and strokes.) Therefore, limit foods rich in saturated fats such as meat, chicken, whole milk dairy products and eggs.

The other type of fat is called polyunsaturated and is healthful as long as it is left in its natural state and is not converted to anything else by food manufacturers. It is found in abundance in all plants and their parts. Unsaturated fats are further classified into omega-3, omega-6 and more, depending on their chemical structure. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are particularly healthful because they help to prevent clotting and swelling that increase your risk for heart attacks and cancers. Omega-3 fats are found in deep-water fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds and vegetables. As long as polyunsaturated fats are left in their natural state, they are healthful, but when vegetable oils are removed from vegetables, they turn rancid rather quickly. So manufacturers use a chemical process that converts healthful polyunsaturated oils into cancer and heart attack-causing partially hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fats. Before 1940, the human body had never seen these fats and still doesn't know what to do with it. Partially hydrogenated fats have a long shelf life in the store and last a very long time in your body. We can tell how much partially hydrogenated fat you have eaten just by removing a bit of fat from your buttocks and analyzing its content. People who have high levels of partially hydrogenated fats in their bodies are at high risk for beast and prostate cancer and heart attacks. Those with low levels are at low risk.

So: Restrict saturated fats in meat, chicken, diary products and eggs because you are probably eating too much food. Eat fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and vegetables that are loaded with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Eat nuts, seeds, whole grains, deep-water fish and shellfish for omega-3 fats that prevent cancers and heart attacks. Read labels on all prepared foods and avoid all that say partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated and trans fats that are associated with cancer and heart attacks.

Checked 5/3/07

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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