Studies Show Not All Fats Are Created Equal

Contrary to popular belief, not everything low-fat and "light" is good for you

By Seattle Mag May 13, 2015


This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

It’s been all over the news: Can butter, or even bacon, be good for you? Not quite—but recent studies have upended the decades-long health message that saturated fat is evil and low-fat and “light” everything is good. Carol A. Birch, a family nurse practitioner at Swedish Weight Loss Services’ First Hill and Issaquah campuses who specializes in helping patients manage weight, explains how doctors are now thinking differently when it comes to fat in foods and heart health.

“For years, providers were taught that fats in the diet caused heart disease and strokes; however, eating more fat [may] actually help you lose weight and improves good cholesterol. The unhealthy fats are those man-made fats, especially trans fats. Natural fats,” she says, such as those found in butter, olive oil, bacon and meats with higher saturated fat levels, “are dealt with in our body in a healthy manner. It is still important to eat and cook with natural fats. Fat in the diet does not increase blood sugar and glucose.”

Birch adds that there is debate about whether high triglycerides, a type of fat found in your blood, actually promote heart disease or if they are simply a marker of risk. The [high-fat] diet also raises concerns that it may still increase levels of LDLs, that artery-clogging “bad” cholesterol.

She cautions that researchers are still studying how fat in diets interacts with our bodies and with other foods. So while it’s not open season on fat consumption, the old adage “Everything in moderation” still remains the best advice. 


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