Good Fat: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Image courtesy of Flickr user WordRidden (CC)

For years, we’ve been hit over the head with messages about good fat and bad fat.  Let me rephrase that. For years, we’ve been hit over the head with messages about good and bad dietary fat.  It’s time for mono-unsaturated olive oil to make room for brown adipose tissue — good biologic fat.

Fat in the body — aka adipose tissue — appears to come in two colors — white and brown — and it may not entirely be inappropriate to think of these as bad and good fats respectively. I was able to listen in on a very interesting talk about brown adipose tissue today by Dr. Aaron M. Cypress  at Endo 2001 in Boston [OR11-6].

In short, brown adipose tissue is found primarily in the scapular region in humans and deposition of it seems to increase with increasing depth — findings that are based on surgical resection of this adipose tissue in 10 patients undergoing neck surgery.  In other words, more brown adipose tissue is found in the longus colli and carotid sheath than in the prevertebral, subplatysmal, and subcutaneous depots.

Brown adipose tissue can expend energy via thermogenesis, a process that is regulated by the tissue-specific mitochondrial inner-membrane protein uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1). In fact, the researchers looked specifically at oxygen consumption and found that compared with undifferentiated cells, adipocytes found in brown fat had basal and maximally stimulated oxygen consumption rates that were 3.5- and 6.5-fold higher, respectively.

So, it makes sense that more brown adipose tissue is found in thinner people. While it’s way too early to tell, the ability to produce more brown adipose tissue in the body could increase metabolism and maybe increase weight loss — of slacker white adipose tissue.

Kerri Wachter

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Filed under Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, IMNG

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