Another Study Says Fat Is Good for You

According to Tufts research, eating unsaturated fat may cut your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Olive oil

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New Tufts research adds to a collection of studies that suggest fat does the body good.

According to the study, published Tuesday in PLOS Medicine, eating unsaturated fats instead of carbohydrates or saturated fats may reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Healthy fat consumption was linked to lower blood sugar and better insulin resistance and secretion.

“The world faces an epidemic of insulin resistance and diabetes,” senior author Dariush Mozaffarian said in a statement. “Our findings support preventing and treating these diseases by eating more fat-rich foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, flaxseed, fish, and other vegetable oils and spreads, in place of refined grains, starches, sugars, and animal fats.”

Mozaffarian and his team used data from 102 randomized control trials, which gave subjects meals with varying amounts of fats and carbohydrates. They then assessed how the participants, 4,660 in all, responded to the food metabolically.

Even a small uptick in unsaturated fat intake—and a corresponding decrease in carbohydrate and saturated fat consumption—had a positive impact, the researchers found. Eating just 5 percent more healthy fats reduced the prevalence of blood marker HbA1c by .01 percent. That may seem inconsequential, but a reduction of that size has been shown to lower risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent and lower risk of cardiovascular disease by 6.8 percent.

Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in foods such as soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and fatty types of fish, seemed to have the most positive impact. No surprise there, but a prior study from Tufts, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital also found that a less conventionally healthy source of fat—full-fat dairy—may also lower your type 2 diabetes risk.

Other studies have also linked diets high in unsaturated fats with longer lives and lower odds of developing heart disease.

Keep the olive oil flowing, everybody.