Balancing the evidence: Fresh study suggests negative impact of sat fats

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Balancing the evidence: Fresh study suggests negative impact of sat fats

Related tags: Fat, Immune system, Nutrition

High intakes of saturated fats could lead to an increased risk of inflammation and tissue damage, say scientists.

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.

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5 comments

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One mice study does not "tip the scales" over 3 Meta-analysis on PEOPLE!

Posted by Rob Oh,

So many issues on the reporting of this. First, I don't think this mice study on monocyte migration will "tip the scales" on the 3 large meta-analysis looking at prospective cohort and randomized studies on thousands of people showing no association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Ref 1-4.

Secondly, when do Cake, Biscuits and Pastries represent saturated fats? While there are fats from likely butter, there is also refined carbohydrates which may be the primary driver of CV disease!


1. de Souza Russell J, Mente Andrew, Maroleanu Adriana, Cozma Adrian I, Ha Vanessa, Kishibe Teruko et al. Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ 2015;351:h3978
2. Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary RiskA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med2014;160:398-406.CrossRefMedlineWeb of Science
3. Harcombe Z, Baker JS, Cooper SM, et al. Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Heart2015;2:e000196.Abstract/FREE Full Text
4. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr2010;91:535-46.

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Saturated fats effects

Posted by R,

David: You are misinformed. Saturated fats do not remain as saturated fat in the blood. Rather, they are converted by the liver to a highly atherogenic form of cholesterol...LDL...which has been shown time and again to be elevated when saturated and trans fats increase in the diets. Elevated LDL cholesterol does raise our risk of CAD!!! Also, "K",, grass fed animals have only minute differences in fatty acid profiles in their meat compared to grain finished beef.

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More research on the sources needed

Posted by K,

I agree with the two previous commenters, it needs to be on human models and it also needs to differentiate the source of saturated fat. Grass fed and healthy sources of sat fat are very different than junk food sources.

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