Are fatty foods such as cheese, butter and cream bad for the heart or not? It would appear not. Indeed, they could provide health benefits if accompanied by a reduced carbohydrate intake. In short, it appears that fatty foods are not the cause of so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Bergen and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports this thesis. According to the Norwegian researchers, it would appear that dairy products such as cheese, cream and butter do not cause an increase in bad cholesterol as is often feared.
Forty obese men, who were kept under strict control, participated in the experiment. Half of them were put on a diet that was low in fat and high in carbohydrate, whereas the other group followed a diet consisting of double the consumption of saturated fat, and 24% of their daily energy consumption was from butter alone.
The diet for each group consisted of roughly 2,100 calories, a large amount of vegetables and the elimination of junk food. At the end of the experiment each participant had lost an average of 12 kilos, most of which was body fat, thereby reducing the risks associated with obesity, such as hypertension and diabetes. ”The human body can function perfectly with fat as its main source of energy”, explains Simone Dankel, coordinator of the study. “We have observed a very positive metabolic response. In a diet energy can be obtained from either carbohydrates or fats. There is not much difference.”
Are saturated fats the cornerstone of the ‘French paradox’?
This study has in some way reduced the role of red wine, rich in antioxidants (especially Resveratrol), in the so-called ‘French paradox’, i.e., the fact that France has a low rate of cardiovascular diseases despite the national diet featuring a high consumption of cheese, cream and butter – all foods which are rich in saturated fat.