Doctors unanimously say that saturated fat is evil, and their amount in your diet should be minimized. However, a new study by American doctors has shown that eating foods rich in these fats provides protection against several diseases, writes the Daily Mail.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Washington School of Medicine in Missouri analyzed data from residents of 11 countries to find out how body mass index (BMI) and the prevalence of saturated or unsaturated fat in the diet are associated with acute pancreatitis, a dangerous disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.
Saturated fats are found in butter, lard, fatty meats, and cheese, which are widely consumed in North America and Europe. Unsaturated fats are mainly found in vegetable oils, fish, nuts and are predominant in Asian and some South American diets.
A high proportion of unsaturated fat in the diet may worsen outcome in acute pancreatitis, a new study found. People with a lower BMI who live in countries where the cuisine does not have a large amount of saturated fatty acids is the most difficult to suffer from this condition.
According to scientists, this is because visceral (stored around the abdominal organs) fat, which is high in unsaturated fat, leads to the formation of more free (non-esterified) fatty acids (NEFA). These acids cause cellular damage, systemic inflammation, and organ failure. Visceral fat, on the other hand, with a higher saturated fat content interferes with the production of NEFA, which leads to a milder course of pancreatitis.
The research results were confirmed by laboratory experiments on mice.
Curiously, this is not the first confirmation of the so-called "obesity paradox" - the claim that being overweight can be beneficial. This is true when it comes to acute conditions: burns, acute heart failure, injuries. But in general, normal weight is preferable. Slender people live longer and healthier lives and are less likely to develop cancer or heart disease.
The new study is published in Science Advances.