While several recent studies have questions whether saturated fats are really the dietary villains they have been made out to be for so many years, new research from a team at Imperial College London may begin to tip the scales again – suggesting that excessive consumption of saturated fat can be bad for us.
Writing in Cell Reports, the study performed in mice suggests that the presence of saturated fats resulted in monocytes - a type of white blood cell - migrating into the tissues of vital organs, where they could exacerbate ongoing or underlying inflammation and lead to further tissue damage.
"The mice we studied were treated with a drug that caused them to accumulate extremely high levels of fat in their blood,” explained Dr Kevin Woollard, who led the study. “Although it is unusual, humans do sometimes have measurements approaching those levels, either from an inherited condition, or through eating fatty foods.”
"We think that maintaining a relatively high concentration of saturated fats for example by constantly snacking on cakes, biscuits, and pastries could be causing monocytes to migrate out of the blood and into surrounding tissues,” he suggested – adding that the next stages of this research will be to study groups of patients with inflammatory diseases, and to look at the direct effects of saturated foods on monocyte function.