Saturated Fat & the Balance of Omega 3 & 6

As is often the case when new research comes to light, disproving a ‘diet-heart’ theory that has formed dietary recommendations since 1977, there tends to be confusion in the media.

I’m lucky to have a close relationship with an Accredited Sport’s Dietitian that keeps me up to date & in this case share advice to implement the latest findings on saturated fat before the – on average – waiting time of 17 years between research & practice.

To summarise in a direct quote from the Updated Evidence in the X-PERT Educator Manuals, November 2014:

“Advice to incorporate polyunsaturated fat into the diet through processed vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn, safflower & spreads has led to an unbalanced intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.  The ratio was previously 1:1 prior to the agriculture revolution but has now increased to 16:1 in westernised populations.  Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory whereas omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and therefore the balance needs to be reinstated to reduce systematic chromic inflammation.  Polyunsaturated fat, due to the multiple double bonds, are also less stable and thus more prone to oxidation forming free radicals that lead to cell damage, Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) & cancer & therefore readdressing the balance between the different types of fat will assist with cell integrity.

…”The recommendations to eat unprocessed foods with saturated, monounsaturated fats & some omega-3s from fish & grass fed animals, but avoid trans fats & omega-6 rich vegetable oils & an excessive intake of high GI carbohydrate has been shown to improve health status.”

This doesn’t mean that you should eat lots of butter, just that butter, for example isn’t as bad for you as it was once thought.  Its really important that you continue to eat well as part of a healthy, balanced diet, with sources in the approximate proportions shown in the ‘Eatwell Plate‘ diagram below:

Eatwell Plate