If you are currently experiencing "post-festive eating guilt," researchers at the KG Jebsen Center for Diabetes Research at the University of Bergen may have some good news for you. Overindulgence of saturated fats such as cream and butter this season may not be as bad for your heart and overall health as previously thought
In a new Norwegian diet intervention study (FATFUNC) published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study leader assistant Prof. Simon Nitter Dankel and colleagues have questioned and overturned the dietary theory that saturated fat is unhealthy for most of the population. This theory has dominated health literature for more than 50 years.
The notion of limiting saturated fats to support a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease has featured in health guidelines for decades. Recently, however, scientists and health organizations have contrasting opinions on the dangers of saturated fats.
The American Heart Association (AHA) agree with government warnings and echo that the consumption of saturated fats can lead to levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood that may raise the risk of heart disease.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, however, recommend de-emphasizing the role of saturated fat in developing heart disease, due to the lack of evidence connecting the two.
The majority of foods that are naturally rich in saturated fat come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. The AHA recommend limiting saturated fats - such as those found in butter, cheese, red meat, and other animal-based foods - based on decades of sound science, they say.
Dankel and his team tested the risk of saturated fat on 38 men with abdominal obesity. The participants were divided into two groups and followed either a very high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks.
The researchers measured fat mass in the abdominal region, liver, and heart. They also assessed cardiovascular risk factors.