Does excess saturated fat in food lead to more belly fat?

Excess saturated fat may lead to more belly fat than excess polyunsaturated fat.

Swedish researchers fed 37 young lean people an average of three 250-calorie muffins a day that were made with either palm oil (a saturated fat) or sunflower oil (a polyunsaturated fat). The number of daily muffins was adjusted to make each participant gain 3 percent of his or her initial weight.

After seven weeks, both groups had gained 3½ pounds’ worth of fat and muscle. However, more of the weight gained by the saturated fat eaters was deep belly (visceral) fat, while more of the weight gained by the poly eaters was muscle.

What to do: Replace saturated fats (in foods like red meats, dairy, and butter) with polyunsaturated fats (in foods like oils, fish, and nuts). It’s too early to know if that will help you gain less belly fat, but it should help lower your risk of heart disease.

Source: Diabetes 2014, Feb 18. pii: DB_131622.