Dietary Saturated Fats Might Paradoxically Improve Pancreatitis

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Eating foods that contain saturated fats can raise the level of blood cholesterol, which may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Because of this, saturated fat is usually considered less healthy than unsaturated fat. However, eating unsaturated fats might potentially worsen systemic inflammation and organ failure in patients with pancreatitis, while saturated fats could be beneficial, according to the latest research.



Saturated fats vs unsaturated fats


Saturated fats are simply fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules. The majority of saturated fats come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard and cream, butter, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk.


Unsaturated fats have double bonds in their chemical structure. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the two main types of unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats include olive, peanut, and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats are more likely to be found in fish, especially salmon, soybeans, mayonnaise, soft margarine, and fish oil.



Saturated fats may protect obese populations from pancreatitis


Monounsaturated fats are usually thought of as the healthiest types of fats because they lower total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides. However, a recent study shows that the patients with pancreatitis who ate diets heavy in saturated fats experienced less severe symptoms than those who ate a diet with more unsaturated fats, creating an obesity paradox.


To take a closer look, the team composed of researchers from the Mayo Clinic, the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and the Washington University School of Medicine ran experiments with laboratory mice. They induced pancreatitis in the mice and found that the group fed saturated fats developed less severe symptoms.



According to the research, the reason is that saturated fats did not interact very well with pancreatic triglyceride lipase, which led to less production of long-chain non-esterified fatty acids and reduced symptoms of pancreatitis.


Dietary patterns should be chosen based on personal conditions


There’s a lot of conflicting information about saturated fats. Should I eat them or not. And from the research, we can see that a balanced diet may mean different things to people with different health conditions. Thus, each person should decide whether to include saturated fats in their diet.

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