New research shows that the overriding principle of a healthy diet is not the quantity of fat or carbohydrates but the quality of foods consumed.
Scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway sparked a new debate whether dietary fat and in particular saturated fat could be good for you.
“The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says professor and cardiologist Ottar Nygård who contributed to the study where 38 obese men followed a diet high in either carbohydrates or fat, of which about half was saturated.
The research team looked at the effects of total and saturated fat in the context of a healthy diet rich in fresh, lowly processed and nutritious foods, including high amounts of vegetables and rice instead of flour-based products. The fat sources were also lowly processed, mainly butter, cream and cold-pressed oils. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Saturated fat is regarded as promoting cardiovascular diseases by raising the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. In this study no significant increases in LDL cholesterol was found.The “good” cholesterol increased only on the very-high-fat diet.
“These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy,” said Nygård.