For decades, Americans have been warned to strictly limit the amount of saturated fat in their diets. Sat fat is found in butter, cheese and meat, as well as coconut oil. The assumption has been that more sat fat on the plate translates pretty directly into more saturated fat floating around in the bloodstream doing damage.
Diet Study Produces Unexpected Results
A new study shows, however, that the assumption is wrong. Researchers recruited 16 people with metabolic syndrome. Over the course of more than four months, their diets were progressively changed with respect to the balance of fats and carbohydrates. Calories and protein were held constant at 2500 calories and 130 grams.
The diets were initially low in carbohydrate and high in saturated fat. But these diets did not raise the amount of dangerous fat in the blood. As the proportion of carbohydrate increased, however, so did a marker called palmitoleic acid. This is an indicator that carbs are being stored as fat rather than burned as fuel. The lead author inferred that it could make more sense to restrict carbs rather than fat to promote health.
More Research Needed
The research was underwritten by organizations with a stake in saturated fat: The Egg Nutrition Center, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Dairy Research Institute. Another study with different funding may be needed to confirm these intriguing findings.
[PLoS One, Nov. 21, 2014]