You’ve always been told to eat your greens and to stay away from foods with too much fat to achieve a balanced diet. But now it seems like only one of those is truly a good piece of advice.

Recently I came across a blog written by Rajiv Chowdhury, MD, the University of Cambridge associate professor in the Global Cardiovascular Health department. He wrote about a review which he and his team recently had published, in which they evaluated the results of several studies looking at the association between fatty acids and coronary heart disease. Their evaluation echoed what other scientists around the world have been saying about saturated fats’ role in a balanced diet.

Improving your diet starts with choosing foods that do not contain trans fats. “Eating trans fats raises bad cholesterol, reduces good cholesterol and promotes inflammation,” Chowdhury wrote. Since there are no known requirements for trans fats in body functions, Chowdhury recommends a switch. “Palm oil can be considered a healthier alternative to trans fats with its perfect balance of saturated and unsaturated fats,” he explained.

It’s those saturated fats that we’ve been told to avoid. But new research is finding that the science behind that theory is not as accurate as we once thought. “Our study found that a high intake of total saturated fat was not significantly associated with heart disease risk,” Chowdhury wrote.

But some sources of saturated fat are better for us than others. While French fries still aren’t considered healthy foods (sorry), saturated fats in their more natural forms can be an important part of your diet.

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That’s where a balanced saturated fat such as Malaysian sustainable palm oil can come in. It also contains vitamin E tocotrienols and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which can benefit your overall nutrition.

You can also use Chowdhury’s tips to help round out the rest of your balanced diet.

  • Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables
  • Eat lots of fruits in various colors
  • Choose whole grains (whole-wheat bread, brown rice) over refined grains (white bread, white rice)
  • Rely on fish, beans and nuts for your protein
  • Limit red meats
  • Opt for a couple of daily servings of whole-fat dairy, instead of skim or low-fat
  • Eliminate processed meats

Chowdhury also suggests limiting salt intake, as well as replacing sugary drinks and alcohol with water, tea or unsweetened coffee.

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