The row in the health community over fat has been reignited after a new study found people on high fat diets were not at greater risk of negative health outcomes.
Researchers in Norway found similar health effects among a group of men, half of whom followed diets based on lowly processed carbohydrates and the other half based mainly on fats, of which around half were saturated.
The results, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that a very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and may even help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
"These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy," said Ottar Nygård, one of the study’s authors.
The findings reflect a growing body of opinion within the health community that dietary advice, such as the UK’s Eatwell plate, that recommends low consumption of fats and high consumption of carbohydrates may be misleading. Other health professionals, however, reject the notion that high fat diets are healthier and point to evidence that shows a link between saturated fat intake and higher levels of cholesterol.
Current government advice is that that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol and recommends choosing lower fat options.