You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

The skinny on fat

By Melissa Gerharter MS, RD

Our bodies need fat. The low fat diet is a thing of the past but choosing the right fats are more imperative then limiting them. Fat helps with the health of skin and hair, protects our organs and aids in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and can cause an increase in blood cholesterol. Eating to much saturated fats can contribute to leptin and insulin resistance. Common saturated fats are coconut oil, butter fat, palm oil and cocoa butter. Palmitic acid appears to do the most damage and if found in beef and high fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter. It can impair leptin and insulin's ability to regulate food intake and body weight.

Unsaturated fat can either be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats consists of canola oil, pecans, almonds, avocados. Polyunsaturated fats can either be Omega-3 or Omega-6. Omega-6 increases blood clotting and blood pressure while Omega-3 decrease blood clotting and blood pressure. The ratio of the consumption of these two are important and should stay between 5:1 and 10:1 (Omega 6: Omega 3).

Trans fats are obtained through the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Hydrogenation is the process used to harden oils. Trans fats are found in processed foods and can contribute to insulin resistance.

A diet higher in monounsaturated fats as well as fiber appears to be more effective for weight loss than a traditional low-fat diet while also helping to improve insulin sensitivity and gylcemic control.

Melissa Gerharter MS, RD is co-owner of Joust Strength and Fitness of Ann Arbor, She is also a personal trainer and an adjunct lecturer at Eastern Michigan University. She can be reached at