Another log has been added to the saturated vs unsaturated and omega 3, omega 6 ratio fire. And if the fiery debate was showing any signs of dying down this should certainly get it going again.

If you follow the news then you should have heard about two health related issues over the last few years. One of these is that the advice given for so long that we should ditch the butter and have margarine instead to lower our cholesterol and therefore chance of heart disease.

The other is that while omega 3 fatty acids are good for us, it would seem that oils high in omega 6 but low in omega 3 actually seem to increase the chance of heart disease.

Published in the British Medical Journal this week is a paper based on a lost data set from 1968-73. The study was a simple one, what happens to people when you replace some of their saturated fat intake, butter, with an unsaturated fat, vegetable oil.

The first part of what they found was what was expected, the cholesterol levels of the group given the oil decreased. But this did not lead to a decrease in incidence of heart disease. In fact, there was a 22% higher chance of death for every 0.78mmol/L reduction in serum cholesterol.

So was does this mean? Basically the assumption that lowering your cholesterol will decrease your chance of heart disease is not supported by this data.  What also seems to be evident, is that the oil used in the intervention actually increases the chance of death. We blogged a few years back about the story that omega 6 fatty acids could actually be bad for you and that they can increase inflammation. This data would seem to support this idea.

What is needed here, as always is more research, but in the mean time, tomorrow morning I will be munching on my toast with melted butter, guilt free. Well, I might buy a wholemeal loaf….

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