What's worse for your health – fat or carbohydrates? One nutrient that we have consistently been warned about is saturated fat. It has been associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline in the past.
A recent study claims that diet rich in carbohydrates increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The research at the Ohio State University also suggests that increasing the amount of saturated fat in one's diet does not drive up fat levels in the blood. The research also claimed that increasing carbohydrates in the diet promoted an increase of levels of fatty acid in the blood, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers at the Ohio State University tracked blood levels of saturated fats and carbohydrate intake. With the increase in carbohydrates intake, the blood levels went up. On the other hand, it was seen that total blood levels of saturated fats decreased in most study participants in which carbohydrates were reduced.
The study involved sixteen adults who all had metabolic syndrome and were brought to a baseline through a reduced-carb diet for three weeks. In the study, the patients were fed six three-week diets that increased the levels of carbohydrates progressively. The team noted that the levels of Palmitoleic acid (a fatty acid associated with unhealthy metabolism) dropped when carbs were reduced and vice-versa.
The subjects ate twice as much as saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study. When saturated fat in their blood was measured, it was noted that it had went down in the most. This suggests that palmitoleic acid may be a biomarker to signal when the body is converting carbohydrates into fat and thus increasing heart disease risk.
It was found that five markers – excess belly fat, elevated blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, and high triglycerides – increased as carbohydrates increased.
According to Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at the Ohio State University in Columbus, there is no safe and healthy carb level or any other approach to diet that can work for everyone.
There is a widespread misunderstanding about effect of saturated fat on body. There is no conclusive study that links dietary saturated fat to heart disease, yet most health and dietary guidelines support the restriction on saturated fat. The study has indicated that saturated fat in the blood can up the risk for heart disease.