• Briana Theroux

Dietary Fats & Toxicity



Let’s talk about fats and fatty acids.

One of our listeners asked us to address our thoughts on saturated vs unsaturated fats and the idea that polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fats are toxic.

First and foremost, PUFAs are not toxic! Getting too much PUFA in the diet (>10% calories), be it omega-6s or omega-3s, can harm health be make cell membranes too fluid, but this isn’t toxicity. Even with industrial seed oils, they aren’t toxic and they aren’t inflammatory. Research has shown that adding omega-6s into the diet does not increase markers of inflammation when compared to things like flax oil and olive oil. So, the mechanisms are there, but they don’t fully play out in humans.

The issue isn’t inherent to a type of fat (excluding trans-fats as the exception); the issue is EXCESS!

So, if you keep your PUFAs on the lower end, then the only remaining options for fat intake are saturated (SFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). Which should you aim for?

Well, you run into similar issues with PUFA in terms of mechanistic plausibility. SFAs increase LDL particle counts in most people and is thereby associated with heart disease, but not all food sources of SFAs affect LDL particles similarly. Cheese, for example, doesn’t really impact blood lipids while butter does. Stearic acid from cacao doesn’t really affect LDL.

So, you can’t just look at mechanisms. You need to look at foods and the overall dietary pattern and how people respond to different fats (some people are “hyper-responders”).

When it comes to fats, context matters.




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