By now, you’re well aware of my feelings about fat. Quite simply, it’s not the villain it’s been portrayed as by many so-called nutrition “experts.” And those dire warnings that “fat makes you fat”? Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact, a new study done at Texas Tech University shows that adding even MORE fat to a high-fat diet can actually help you lose weight.
Of course, I’m not talking about adding a stick of butter to every recipe you make. (Not that there’s anything wrong with butter, mind you.) This research honed in on the fat-blasting benefits of one specific type of fat, called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA.
As you know, EPA is one of the primary essential fatty acids you get from fish oil (the other being docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA). But for this study, researchers singled it out to test its effects in conjunction with a high-fat diet.
They looked at four different groups of mice. One group was fed a low-fat diet. Another group was fed a high-fat diet. The third group got a high-fat diet that contained EPA for 11 weeks. And the final group was fed a high-fat diet for six weeks, followed by the addition of EPA for five weeks.
The mice that got EPA along with the high-fat diets actually had decreased body weight and body fat compared to the high-fat-only group.
The researchers also found the mice who got the EPA had smaller fat cells and less inflammation.
Even more good news: The researchers determined that EPA helped regulate mitochondrial function in the cells of the mice by increasing oxygen consumption and fatty acid oxidation.
As I’ve mentioned before, mitochondria are like microscopic power plants inside your cells. They churn out a chemical called adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP), which fuels your energy levels. If your mitochondria aren’t operating up to par, you’re more likely to feel run down, tired, and worn out. And beyond that, poor mitochondrial function has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other serious health conditions.
But this study shows EPA can help give your mitochondria a boost. Which, in turn, combats fatigue and all the other conditions I listed.
Granted, this was a mouse study, which isn’t my top choice when looking for relevant research to share with you. But knowing how much more evidence there is supporting EPA—and essential fatty acids in general—in human health, I have no reason not to trust this study’s findings would apply across the board (and across species).
EPA ranks as an all-star—for your weight, your energy levels, and your overall health. And this study proves, once again, that “fat” isn’t a four-letter word. While this study singled out EPA, I still recommend taking it along with DHA (in the form of fish oil)—1,500 mg, twice a day.
“Eicosapentaenoic Acid Reduces Adipocyte Hypertrophy and Inflammation in Diet-Induced Obese Mice in an Adiposity-Independent Manner.” Journal of Nutrition, epub ahead of print 3/1/15