It’s not “fat” but what kind of fat you eat that makes your belly bigger!

17 Jun

This month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked all processed food manufacturers to add an “Added Sugars” category to food labels. Food manufacturers are fighting the FDA on this request. We hope (for the sake of your longevity and health) that the FDA wins because added sugars and syrups (as well as simple carbs) are three of the Five Food Felons™.

Two other members of the Five Food Felons™ are saturated and trans fats. The FDA has proposed banning trans fats (we hope the FDA wins here as well). But the big news for your health is a study published this past month showing that the type of fat you eat—saturated versus unsaturated—makes a bigger difference than we thought. Saturated fat include palm and coconut oil (despite what Dr. Oz used to say), as well as two-legged animal skin (birds) and fat from four-legged animals.

In this brilliant study conducted at Uppsala University, subjects were given 750 extra calories a day for seven weeks in muffins that were made largely with saturated fat (one group) or unsaturated fat (the other group).

While both groups ate more fat and gained weight, those who consumed saturated fat gained fat in their bellies that we know turns on genes that cause inflammation (which causes things like arthritis). The participants who ate the muffins with unsaturated fat showed an increase of fat in their muscles and they also gained muscle mass and there were no apparent signs of inflammation. The health admonition is not to “avoid fat”, but avoid these specific fats (saturated fats).

Are avoiding heart disease, wrinkles, and arthritis not enough to make you change the way you cook and how you order when you eat out? In two other recent studies, avoiding higher blood sugar levels and avoiding saturated fat was associated with much less cognitive decline in animal models and in humans (read, avoiding memory loss and dementia).

If you want to live long and healthfully, with less disability, you just can’t exercise the calories away and stay healthy. You need to choose the right foods. Avoid added sugars and syrups, and any grain that isn’t 100% whole grain, plus all trans-fat, and as much saturated fat (including coconut and palm oil) as you can.

These five food felons cause damage to your proteins or turn on genes that cause you to suffer.

Now, almost no one can totally avoid saturated fat and added sugars, but if you stay at less than 4 grams of either in any hour and less than 20 grams of either in a day, you will place yourself in among the healthiest eaters, and that will help keep you well and vigorous for longer…and YES YOU GET A DO-OVER. So, change now. In five years, it will be as though you never consumed saturated fat or added sugars. And let’s hope the FDA wins its labeling battles so it becomes easy for you to live long and with fewer disabilities along the way.

Thanks for reading. And feel free to send more questions–you can always send us questions at, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr. Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike.

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have a new web site: and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV. See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

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