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Don’t Believe The “Fat Is Good For You” Headlines

butter-knife
(Image credit: unknown)

Fat is fantastically tasty, especially the saturated kind found in bacon, butter and cakes, so it’s no surprise that people are anxious to find reasons to eat as much of it as they can. Unfortunately, that flies in the face of widespread dietary advice, which recommends restricting saturated fat intake, as too much of it raises bad cholesterol and so the risk of heart disease.

However, there is a lot of kickback against the “saturated fat is bad” position and new studies can often muddy the water. Mail OnlineThe Sun and Daily Express have all loudly proclaimed that fat is actually GOOD for you (their capitals) on the basis of a new study from the University of Bergen that did indeed find that a high intake of total fats, and saturated fats in particular, can actually increase “good” cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Great news all round, but before you break out the bacon bunting there are a couple of things to consider. Firstly, the fact that the study was only on 38 people means that while it has produced an interesting result, it’s not a conclusive reason to go against half a century of dietary advice regarding saturated fat.

Only a couple of weeks ago a study involving data from over 100,000 people followed for 20 years (opens in new tab) found that replacing just 1% of your saturated fat intake with unsaturated fats, wholegrain carbs or plant proteins, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 5% to 8%.

The new Danish study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also emphasised the importance of high-quality food (less processed fats, and high amounts of vegetables and rice, rather than flour-based carbs), so you cant just go bananas at Greggs and expect your good cholesterol to rocket. (For more info on the study, head to Science Daily (opens in new tab))

Current NHS advice recommends restricting your saturated fat intake to around 30g a day, and cut down on fat in general. Although you can probably let things slip a little over the festive season, it is Christmas after all.

RECOMMENDED: How Much Saturated Fat Should You Eat?

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.