Enjoy your Ulster fry, but ditch sugar
Diets low in saturated fat do not prevent heart disease or improve health, a leading scientist has said.
Dr James DiNicolantonio has said that instead public health warnings need to be issued over sugar.
It's good news for people fond of the traditional Ulster fry and appears to fly in the face of received opinion that a fatty diet can kill.
Northern Ireland's high-fat diet has long been blamed as a major contributor to heart disease, but this latest opinion appears to contradict that.
Writing in the journal Open Heart, the leading US cardiovascular research scientist said a "compelling argument can be made for the general lack of evidence in support of a low-fat diet".
He claimed that the fear that saturated fat raises cholesterol is "completely unfounded".
He said: "There is no conclusive proof that a low-fat diet has any positive effects on health."
Dr DiNicolantonio also said that the rise in diabetes and obesity over recent years correlated closely with the increase in carbohydrate consumption, "not saturated fat."
The culprits of poor health are diets high in carbohydrate and sugar and a public health campaign is "drastically needed to educate on the harms of a diet high in these foods," he claimed.
Addiction NI chairman Dr George O'Neill said that while it is true sugar is a problem, he maintains everything in moderation is the key to a good diet.
He said: "We have a major problem with a population that is getting larger, and I mean in size not numbers.
"We have to moderate our eating. If you want to really improve your health you should give up smoking and drinking too much and stop eating the large amounts of food that contain sugar."
Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter and lard, pies, cakes and biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages and bacon, and cheese and cream. Most of us eat too much saturated fat – about 20% more than the recommended maximum amount. The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day. The average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day. Source: NHS Choices