CHOLESTEROL Diet – and increased risk of health problems related to obesity – could be reduced by eating more unsaturated fat, and less saturated fat, say scientists.

Research has found a diet high in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat could help lower cholesterol.

A study by the University of Illinois discovered that it may prevent a number of diseases related to obesity.

Foods rich in unsaturated fat include olive, sunflower and canola oils, nuts and seeds, and avocado.

In contrast, foods packed with saturated fat tend to include animal products such as red meat, butter and dairy.

Researchers found that participants who consumed a diet high in saturated fat – roughly 14 to 24 per cent of their daily calories – had higher cholesterol levels.They also had an increased risk of weight gain and cardiovascular disease.

However, people who ate more monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats – two types of unsaturated fat – reduced their cholesterol by more than ten milligrams per decilitre.

While this amount is small, the study authors say this is clinically beneficial and could prevent the onset of one of the 20 different diseases obesity has been linked to.

These include type 2 diabetes and heart disease.Additionally, eating unsaturated fats has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and other health benefits.

While eating more unsaturated fat, and less saturated fat, is beneficial, there is little evidence it helps with weight loss.

The researchers found that, regardless of fat type, only people who reduced their calorie intake lost weight.

“We know that metabolic health, in the context of obesity, is a transient state that may not persist over time, and these individuals are at increased risk of developing different comorbidities,” said co-author Sharon V Thompson, a dietitian and pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Illinois.

The study authors recommend consuming unsaturated fats along with a calorie-restricted diet and increased physical activity for the greatest benefits.

“This can be accomplished in small, simple steps, such as substituting olive oil and canola oil while cooking, and increasing one’s consumption of fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables,” said Dr Margarita Teran-Garcia, study author and nutritional sciences professor at the University of Illinois.

“These strategies could not only reduce an individual’s risk of obesity-related diseases but also help them get to a healthy weight.”





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