Monday, September 5, 2016

How Unsaturated Fats Help with Inflammation and Weight Control

Butter, bacon, whole milk or full-fat dairy have been all the rage the last 1-2 years.  Food trends have included the popularity of the Paleo diet and Bulletproof coffee.  Both of these trends coincide with research about the role of fat in our diets.  Fat plays several roles.  It adds flavor and satiety to meals.  It’s important in hormone regulation.  It also adds Calories. 

Let’s talk about both, with a bit of chemistry and a bit of nutrition included.
ScienceDaily defines unsaturated fat as: “…a fat or fatty acid in which there is one or more double bond in the fatty acid chain.”  In layman’s terms, it’s liquid at room temperature (with the exception of the avocado).  Sources include: avocados, nuts, soy, canola and olive oils.  Saturated fat is another type of fat that consists of single bonds and is notably solid at room temperature.  Saturated fat can be found in animal products (dairy, meat, eggs, butter and coconuts). 

In Frontiers, research shows: “A diet high in saturated fat can make your brain struggle to control what you eat, says a new study. Consuming fish oil instead of lard can make a significant difference, the study shows” (Science Daily, 2016).  In regards to inflammation, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had a recent article in July of “more than 5,000 people, investigators have found that greater intake of nuts was associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, a finding that may help explain the health benefits of nuts” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016).

The important part to focus on is the overall diet and to consider swapping out a few servings of saturated fat for unsaturated fat as needed.  It probably won’t hurt to throw in a few servings of nuts on a weekly basis if you’re concerned about inflammation.

Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Frequent nut consumption associated with less inflammation: Five or more servings of nuts per week or substituting nuts for animal proteins tied to a healthy profile of inflammatory biomarkers.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2016. <>.

Frontiers. "Fish oil vs. lard: Why some fat can help or hinder your diet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2016. <>.

Gina Volsko MS, RDN, LD is an Ohio based dietitian, health data nerd and weightlifting convert.  You can follow her on Instagram @weightlifting_wife.