Good fat or bad fat?

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Burning fat to increase metabolic rates

Gary D. Lopaschuk, PhD
Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Heart Metab. (2016) 69:3

  • The concept of “bad cholesterol” versus “good cholesterol” has received considerable attention in both the scientific and public media. This discussion has now recently extended to adipose tissue, with the concept of “bad fat” versus “good fat.” The major storage depot of fatty acids in the body is contained within white adipose tissue, and the dramatic rise in the incidence of obesity in our society has resulted in marked increases in the amount of white adipose tissue fatty acid stores in the population. Since obesity is a risk factor for a number of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, these white adipose tissue stores have been labeled the “bad fat.” However, a second type of adipose tissue exists, termed brown adipose tissue, that primarily burns fat as opposed to storing fat. This “good fat” has a high mitochondrial content (giving this fat its brown color), which can readily oxidize fatty acids. A high expression of uncoupling proteins in the mitochondria of this brown adipose tissue results in the production of heat rather than energy stores.
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