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Fat quality in the diet


The 2009 Summary Statement from the International Expert Meeting (IEM) entitled "Health Significance of Fat Quality of the Diet" recommends reducing the intake of both saturated and trans fats from foods like butter, whole milk, high-fat cheeses and meats, and palm and coconut oil by switching to sources containing unsaturated fats such as those found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds, canola oil, soybean oil, olive oil, and products made from these vegetable oils such as soft spreads and mayonnaise.

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									          inform May 2009, Vol. 20 (5)                   303

       that inhibit the liver from making choles-       liver, that medicine goes to the brain, too.               be worthwhile to carry out an epidemio-
       terol may also keep the brain from making        And then it reduces the synthesis of cho-                  logical study on the rate of occurrence of
       cholesterol, which is vital to efficient brain   lesterol which is necessary in the brain,”                 various amyloid-related diseases in a popu-
       function.                                        said Shin.                                                 lation regularly consuming natto,” the sci-
            “If you deprive cholesterol from the             In his experiments, Shin tested the                   entists say.
       brain, then you directly affect the machin-      activity of the neurotransmitter-release
       ery that triggers the release of neurotrans-     machinery from brain cells without choles-
       mitters,” said Shin. “Neurotransmitters          terol present and measured how well the
       affect the data-processing and memory            machinery functioned. He then included
       functions. In other words—how smart you          cholesterol in the system and again mea-
       are and how well you remember things.”           sured the protein function. Cholesterol
            Shin’s findings appeared online ahead       increased protein function by five times.
       of print in the Proceedings of the National           “Our study shows there is a direct link
       Academy of Sciences of the United States of      between cholesterol and the neurotrans-
       America (doi:10.1073/pnas.0813138106).           mitter release,” said Shin. “And we know
            Cholesterol is one of the building          exactly the molecular mechanics of what
       blocks of cells and is made in the liver. Low-   happens in the cells. Cholesterol changes
       density lipoprotein (LDL)—often referred         the shape of the protein to stimulate think-
       to as “bad” cholesterol—transports choles-       ing and memory.”
       terol from the liver to peripheral tissues.
       High-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the so-
       called “good” cholesterol—is believed to         Natto and
       reduce fatty deposits and to carry choles-
       terol back to the liver. In brief: Too much      Alzheimer’s disease
       LDL going to cells and not enough being          A soy food renowned in Asia for its ability
       removed can lead to cholesterol deposits         to protect against heart attacks also shows
       and hardening of the cells.                      a powerful ability in laboratory experi-
            “If you have too much cholesterol,          ments to prevent formation of the clumps

                                                                                                                   Fat quality in the
       your internal machinery is not going to be       of tangled protein, or amyloids, involved in
       able to take away enough cholesterol from        Alzheimer’s disease, scientists in Taiwan
       the cells,” said Shin. “Then cells harden and
       you can get these deposits.”
                                                        are reporting. Their study appeared in the
                                                        Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemis-
            Cholesterol-reducing statin drugs are       try (57:503–508, 2009).                                    Forty of the world’s leaders in diet, nutri-
       helpful because they keep the liver from              Rita P.Y. Chen and colleagues point                   tion, and health have issued a consensus
       synthesizing cholesterol, so less of the sub-    
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