What are the health effects of fat?
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Eur J Nutr. 2004 Mar;43 Suppl 1:I6-I11. Related Articles, Links
In order to answer the question which health benefits are to be expected from dietary fat, we have to differentiate between different kinds of fat with varying fatty acid composition. Saturated fatty acids are commonly judged to have a negative health impact as they lead to increased serum cholesterol levels and a higher risk of coronary heart disease. Therefore, all recommendations stress the importance to limit the intake of saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, have a positive impact on the serum lipid profile, lead to decreased LDL-oxidation and favorably influence the metabolism of diabetics. However, it is essential that monounsaturated fatty acids be mainly supplied by plant oils like rape seed or olive oil and not by foods that are simultaneously rich in saturated fatty acids. Concerning polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is important to increase the supply of n-3 fatty acids (ratio of n-6:n-3: about 5:1) as there is substantial evidence for their protective effects. If the fatty acid composition of the diet is optimized, even a total dietary fat content of 35% of total energy intake can be adequate as long as there is enough physical activity and the diet is rich in plant-derived foods like vegetables, fruits, cereals, potatoes, beans and legumes.