Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's All Good (Maybe)

Just when I thought it was safe to cook healthily, it appears that scientists have, once again, muddied the waters. For reference, take a look at this news article. And if you don't feel like reading it, the summary of it is this: It appears that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that saturated fats are actually bad for you. And there never has been.

This is disconcerting, since we have all (or at least, I have) been going to great lengths to avoid saturated fats in our diets. Saturated fats are bad, so the theory has been. This is different than trans-fats, by the way, which should just be avoided at all costs.

It appears that consuming a diet higher in saturated fats does not increase your likelihood of heart disease. And while it may increase your total LDL levels, it also raises your HDL levels in a way that keeps things balanced. It has been determined that the radio of HDL to LDL matters more than total LDL levels. The higher HDL levels offsets any negative effects of LDL.

So, where does that leave us? Well, as it turns out (and I'm sure this fact has Dr. Atkins rolling in his grave), carbs have a more significant role in heart disease than it was believed. That's because a diet high in carbs can lead to higher levels of triglycerides in the blood. Triglycerides are actually more significant in determining heart disease. One major source of triglycerides is, of course, consuming high fructose corn syrup. Avoid the stuff. But also just sugars in general. Because it triggers the release of insulin, which leads to the conversion of excess sugar in the bloodstream guessed it...triglycerides.

This would seem to be consistent with the Type 2 diabetic's inclination toward heart disease. A diet high in carbs, which eventually leads to the diabetes.

And just what, then, is the proper way to eat?

Moderation, of course, is the key. A diet high in fiber and fruits and vegetables. And avoiding trans-fats. But those simple sugar and corn syrup-laden foods? It should be no surprise they are bad for you. And foods heavy in saturated fats? Well, they may not be as bad for you as once long as you are, again, eating in moderation.

Take a look at peanut butter (and a variety of tree nuts). These are known to be healthy choices. Yet, they have high saturated fat content. The key is that they are also high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. So, find foods rich in both of those.

Maybe, just maybe, that diet I was prescribed when first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is the best diet after all. Not necessarily low-carb, but low-sugar. And I suppose this means I'll have to cut back on those Hostess Chocolate Chocolate-Chip muffin loaves I love so much.