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The truth about saturated fat!

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Saturated fat is NOT the bad guy. Now this is not me telling you to load up on the stuff but often research is skewed to make it seem far worse than it really is.

· Headlines often draw causative conclusions from OBSERVATIONAL studies – these often show positive correlations, for example, those with a higher saturated fat intake show more negative health markers. It is important to remember that correlation does NOT always mean causation – in other words, perhaps those with a higher saturated fat intake have a number of other poor lifestyle behaviours in general which are the true cause of their decline in health markers. Make sense? Good.

· Often high sugar and diets high in refined and processed foods use the term ‘high fat’ when really it’s just junk food – of course, we all know, consuming junk food is not the most optimal way for us to eat all of the time.

· It isn’t uncommon for studies to group saturated fat and trans fats – trans fats are the ones that we all agree should LAREGLY (not always) be avoided – they then draw negative outcomes regarding both types of fats when it may not be both that are to blame.

· Studies are often conducted on animal subjects that often would become unwell far more easily on diets they would not be accustomed to, so are obviously not applicable to humans.

· Research often draws conclusions citing long-term health implications from short-term studies.

Are we following? Great.

Now to stop bashing the research and get on with the good stuff.

It has been reliably proven that –

· Saturated fat OVER feeding CAN lead to an increase in both liver and visceral (fat around our organs) fat when compared with over feeding of polyunsaturated fats; however,

· Saturated fat does NOT negatively affect insulin sensitivity

· Saturated fat could NOT be correlated with mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, strokes or diabetes as has been the case with trans fats.

As a nutritionist I would absolutely recommend that the majority of fat intake in a person’s diet should be made up of non-hydrogenated unsaturated fats with an adequate omega 3 intake BUT this is not something the general population should be getting hung up on. There are bigger fish to fry (nutrition pun fully intended…I know, I know, I’m wasted in health and fitness) like getting your physical activity levels right, stopping smoking…and the rest when looking at cardiovascular health issues, rather than getting particular about fat intake gram for gram!!

Let’s all just chill out, get in a couple of portions of oily fish each week, bit of high quality olive oil, bit of nuts, bit of avocado, bit of dark choccie, some chia seeds, eggies, cheese but as ever, moderation is key! Louder for those that didn’t get that - EVERYTHING IN MODERATION IS KEY!! How many times has coach got to tell ya?!

Peace and love, happy Sunday. A x

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