eggs and bacon frying in a pan

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]

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  1. Robert Moeller

    Just want to subscribe

  2. nancy
    Los Angeles, California

    thank you for adding the funding source! No one else does it, and it is critical.

    I second that thought to include a link to the actual article.

  3. Mark D.

    I think it is interesting to see old photos of various people from many decades ago. Even ancient paintings and sculptures show very few, whom we would consider anything other than “lean”. So many things were different back in those times, but people apparently ate whatever they chose to eat, yet maintained lean bodies. Maybe it was the need to do everything manually, and many people had to walk most places, or at least not sit for everything they did. Probably other factors, as well.

  4. Robert Bench
    Riverton, Utah

    I would be nice to have a link to the original publication. I would like to know what kinds of carbohydrates were eaten. Other research indicates that refined carbohydrates produce very different results than unrefined carbohydrates. Did the types of carbohydrates vary when the total amount of carbohydrates were manipulated?

  5. Sandy

    An interesting article. Why don’t you include the actual citation for it so I can read the original work?

  6. DS
    Denton, YX

    When Dr. Atkins said this in his books nobody paid attention. I think very few people actually READ the whole book. Dietitians called it a fad. If you listen to Oiling of America, presented by Sally Fallon, widely available on utube, written by Mary Enig, the expert on fats, the one who blew the whistle on transfats, you will find out why saturated fats are best. When I started using saturated fats and eliminating carbs, my doctor decided my perfect lipid profile was hereditary. Interesting that both my husband and I would start to show the same hereditary characteristics, previously hidden, when we started eating more saturated fat and fewer carbs!

  7. andrea
    United States

    This article is like asking the ice cream man if ice cream is fattening. What do you think he’s going to say?

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