January 7/Davis, Cal/The Express -- Butter, cheese and full-fat milk might not be as bad for our health as had been thought.
Current health advice dictates that saturated fat from dairy products can clog arteries, leading to heart disease and strokes. However, new research claims that such fats may have got a bad reputation and evidence linking them to disease is far from clear-cut.
Recent advances in the study of saturated fats have shown that the link between an intake of the "bad" fat and health had been over-simplified in dietary advice.
Several studies appear to imply that genetics, lifestyle and age could all play a significant part in how badly the body is affected by saturated fat. Some scientists believe that such fats are "lumped in" with others, which distorts health advice.
A series of research articles published in the journal Lipids provides a snapshot of recent advances in saturated fat and health research. This is based on science presented at the 100th American Oil Chemists' Society annual meeting.
Dr. Bruce German, professor and chemist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California at Davis, said, "Assuming that saturated fat at any intake level is harmful is an over-simplification and not supported by scientific evidence.
"The relationship between dietary intake of fats and health is intricate, and variations in factors such as human genetics, age and lifestyles can lead to different responses."
One scientist, professor Philippe Legrand, studied how saturated fatty acids play various roles in the body.
He concluded that saturated fats can no longer be considered a single group in terms of structure, metabolism and cellular function and recommended that health advice grouping them together needed to be updated.
Results from a research review conducted by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian at the Department of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health, found that the effects of saturated fat intake on cardiovascular disease risk depend upon simultaneous changes in other nutrients.
The review found that replacing saturated fat with mono-unsaturated fat had an unclear effect on heart disease.
In addition, replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates was found to be ineffective and even harmful, especially when refined carbohydrates such as starches or sugars were used in place of fat.
Dr. Cindy Schweitzer, technical director of the worldwide Global Dairy Platform, called for more research to clarify the effects of saturated fat.
She said, "All recent research advances add to the growing body of science re-assessing the role of saturated fat in the diet. Whether it's nutrient replacement or better understanding the role certain foods can play in cardiovascular disease risk, saturated fat is definitely not as bad as once thought."
From the January 10, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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