Jan 28, 2015
High levels of saturated fat in the blood have been implicated in heart disease. As a result, saturated fat in the diet is generally regarded as bad for your health. A new study may change the way we perceive saturated fat in the diet. A study was conducted on individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by having three of the following: a large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of lipid that accumulate in the blood stream and high levels are associated with poor health.
During the study, participants were fed a slightly calorie deficient diet (about 300 calories). Every three weeks the composition of fat and carbohydrates was changed. This study design is unique in that it investigates different diets within the same individuals, rather than across a population. The researchers found that despite some diets having significantly more saturated fat than others, there was no change in serum levels of saturated fat in the blood. This is important because it means that our dietary intake of saturated fat does not effect how much saturated fat is in our bodies—meaning diets with low saturated fat are unnecessary.
Even more interesting, they found that the higher carbohydrate diets increased the levels of a fatty acid called palmitoleic acid. According to the authors, high levels of palmitoleic acid are associated with heart disease, hyperglycemia and cancer. These findings bring to light questions about the daily recommended diet, such as whether or not we should be encouraging low levels of saturated fat and relatively high carbohydrate intake.