Kate Cornell was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June of 2005. Since then, she has controlled diabetes through dietary changes, exercise, and, more recently, metformin. She shares her experiences and lessons learned here and on her blog, kates-sweet-success.blogspot.com, which was named as one of the top diabetes blogs for 2015 by Healthline.com.
When facing a diabetes diagnosis, we are often told that heart disease and stroke are something we should be concerned about. In order to do our best to stay healthy, we cut back on saturated fats. Why is that?
During the 1950s, the medical community pointed its finger at saturated fats as the enemy that was causing increased cholesterol and heart disease. That bit of “wisdom” remains with us today. But science is beginning to show us that the conventional opinion of the past may be wrong.
The fat-free craze that began in the '70s and '80s had us shunning all fats. But what do we see today? People are fatter and unhealthier than ever! Those fat-free foods don’t contain the fats that help us feel full - so we often eat much more. Add to that the fact that the food manufacturers add sugars and salt to make the food more palatable and, voila, we have a recipe for weight gain and poorer health.
Scientists' Surprising Discovery
Our bodies need dietary fat, that’s a fact. The trick is to eat the right kind. Monosaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil and avocados, and omega 3s found in fish and nuts are definitely winners. However, should we really shun saturated fats? A huge study highlighted in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, stunned the medical community. The study showed that “scientists discovered there wasn't enough proof to link saturated fat to either heart disease or stroke.” Wow. Earlier studies weren’t deep enough, nor did they look far enough. It’s not just cutting out saturated fats that helps with cholesterol, but it matters what you replace them with. “When you replace saturated fats with refined carbs, your triglycerides can go up and your good HDL cholesterol can go down," explains Alice H. Lichtenstein, the director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University.
People with diabetes do have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Many live with high cholesterol. Since we already limit our carbohydrate intake, cutting back on saturated fats can leave us feeling even further restricted. But according to this research, we may be just fine eating more of the foods that contain saturated fats. The highly processed, high-carbohydrate foods that we are apt to eat instead of saturated fats are more likely to be the cause of our downward slide to poor health.