By Caroline Gilmartin, Nutritional Therapist at http://www.nutraclin.com
“ Contrary to conventional advice, eating more of some fats may be good for our health “, says Michael Mosley on the BBC’s programme Horizon.
Ah I hear you say………we nutritionists know this already. We understand good fats and omega 3’s and 6’s and even 9’s but what about saturated fat?
So after years of being told, and telling others, that saturated fat clogs your arteries and makes you fat………..the media and mainstream medicine is now looking at the mounting evidence that eating some saturated fats may “actually help you lose weight and be good for the heart” and I would add is essential for the brain.
Earlier this year a review, funded by the British Heart Foundation entitled “Association of dietary, circulating and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk” was the cause of quite a controversy. Scientists from Oxford and Harvard, amongst others, examined the links between eating saturated fat and heart disease. Despite looking at the results of nearly 80 studies involving more than a half million people they were unable to find convincing evidence that eating saturated fats leads to greater risk of heart disease. In fact, when they looked at blood results, they found that higher levels of some saturated fats, in particular a type of saturated fat you get in animal and dairy products called margaric acid, were associated with a lower risk of heart disease. (I’ll be honest I have never heard of margaric acid but it is named after the Greek word for pearl “margarites” for its pearl-like lustre and is actually a combination of stearic and palmitic acids, fatty acids often found in animal fats).
This is an interesting subject for Nutritionists as I think this issue does divide us. Many of us were taught that saturated fat contained in meat etc. is not ideal for health and many recommend eliminating red meat or certainly reducing meat intake. I myself believed in the early days that a vegetarian diet was the healthiest one but I have come to change my mind.
Although there were critics to this study funded by the BHF, NHS Choices described this as “an impressively detailed and extensive piece of research, which is likely to prompt further study”. This implies that this is being taken seriously out there. We all know that one size does not fit all but if you do put saturated fat with the “trans fats” and “sugar” on the naughty step…….it may be time to think again.