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Getting brite (and beige and brown) about fat

Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A 400-pound mama bear can gain 150 pounds of brown fat as she heads for a six-month semihibernation (during those months she gives birth, nurses and eats the cubs' droppings to recycle into milk and protein, but that's probably more than you wanted to know). The brown fat is higher than white fat in healthy DHA omega-3 fatty acid, and it's full of little cellular power centers called mitochondria. In bears (and people), it provides calories, generates heat and helps regulate insulin use and glucose uptake. And burning brown fat reduces insulin resistance -- a hallmark of type 2 diabetes -- and helps you lose weight!

Fortunately, you don't need to sleep away the winter to get the benefits of brown fat! You can turn that nasty white fat under your skin and around your internal organs (it causes inflammation, triggers insulin resistance, and promotes cancer, heart disease and a lousy sex life) into shades of brown fat called brite fat (that's brown fat from white fat) and beige fat. Here's our two-step plan for how to brown your fat!

1. Turn up your thermostat with aerobic exercise -- 10,000 steps a day, plus 20 minutes of sweaty aerobics three times a week in a cool room. Also smart: two to three days a week of strength training to build muscle mass.

2. Avoid saturated and trans fats, which cause you to accumulate more white fat. Brown-fat-friendly oils are mono- (olive oil) and polyunsaturated (canola oil), and omega-3's in avocados, walnuts, flax, ocean trout and salmon.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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