Good Fats Research

Disease Prevention

A 30-year study conducted at Harvard University and published in JAMA Internal Medicine found people who frequently consume unsaturated fats have a lower risk of dying early.

More than 126,000 people who were free of major disease at the beginning of the study submitted a dietary questionnaire every two to four years throughout the study. Researchers looked specifically at the effect of replacing 5% of calories from saturated fat with calories from carbohydrates, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Results showed a reduced risk of death by 13% and 27%, with the substitution of monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat, respectively.

A large meta-analysis, which included more than 1.5 million participants, looked at the relationship between adhering to the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruits, legume, grains, fish and moderate intake of red wine with meals) and mortality (death) as well as the incidence of cardiovascular disease and chronic neurological diseases. The results show that participants who closely followed the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 9% decrease in overall mortality, a 9% decrease in death related to cardiovascular disease, a 6% decrease in the incidence of or death from cancer and a 13% decrease in the incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

New research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine indicates that men with non-metastatic prostate cancer who replace 10% of daily energy from carbohydrates and animal fats with healthy fats may have a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. In a prospective study of more than 4,500 men, those who replaced animal fats and carbohydrates with vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocados were 29% less likely to die from the spreading of prostate cancer and 26% less likely to die from other diseases.

Furthermore, those who added just one tablespoon of an oil-based salad dressing to their diet each day saw a 29% decreased risk of dying from prostate cancer and a 13% decrease risk of dying from all other causes. In contrast, a 5% and 1% replacement of carbohydrate intake with saturated and trans fats, respectively, was associated with higher all-cause mortality. Although the findings cannot be labeled as conclusive, researchers indicate that the results are promising and merit a randomized controlled trial to see just how healthy fats affect the prostate.

Results from a study in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics found that consumption of canola and olive oil, which are higher in monounsaturated fat, improved grading of fatty liver, liver span, measures of insulin resistance and lipids in Asian Indians with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The study included 93 males with NAFLD. Each was randomized into three groups — olive oil, canola oil and commonly used soybean/safflower oil (control group) as a cooking medium —plus each received counseling for therapeutic lifestyle changes. Researchers measured BMI, fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin levels and lipids. The results showed that olive oil led to a significant decrease in weight and BMI compared with the control group. Meanwhile, the canola oil group experienced a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose and triglycerides. This study shows that a diet which includes canola and olive oil may improve NAFLD.