Surprise! Some Body Fat Is a Good Thing
Not all body fat is the same. While fat in our tummies can be deadly as it can increase the risk of arterial clogging, the fat that older women carry on their arms, hips, and buttocks can actually protect them from heart attacks and strokes.
According to a research study published in the March issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, full-figured women are less likely to have plaque-clogged arteries than women whose weight is in their abdominal area. It's plaque in the arteries that ups our risk for deadly heart attacks and strokes. "All fat is not the same in women," Dr. Robert Bonow of the American Heart Association told Reuters.
Surprise! Being overweight isn't necessarily bad--as long as the weight is in the right place. In fact, one of the study findings by the Center for Clinical and Basic Research in Denmark showed that obese women who carry their weight all over their bodies actually have a lower risk of arteriosclerosis than women who are not overweight. In this case, the extra weight has a protective effect. (Yeah, you read that right.)
Lead researcher Laszlo B. Tanko calls this all-over body fat peripheral fat. He thinks it may secrete substances that improve insulin sensitivity, which then improves metabolism. Abdominal fat does just the opposite. And that's why men are at risk. Obesity is still a strong risk for arteriosclerosis for men, largely because when they pack on the pounds, it all lands in the belly.
Tanko did point out that overweight women are still at risk for heart attack and stroke if they have these risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
So this isn't a ticket to eat all you want and become a couch potato. Warns the American Heart Association's Bonow, "Since we can't design our bodies and direct fat to specific locations, it's important to exercise and watch our weight."