Saturated fats: A perspective from lactation and milk composition

J. Bruce German, Cora J. Dillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

For recommendations of specific targets for the absolute amount of saturated fat intake, we need to know what dietary intake is most appropriate? Changing agricultural production and processing to lower the relative quantities of macronutrients requires years to accomplish. Changes can have unintended consequences on diets and the health of subsets of the population. Hence, what are the appropriate absolute amounts of saturated fat in our diets? Is the scientific evidence consistent with an optimal intake of zero? If not, is it also possible that a finite intake of saturated fats is beneficial to overall health, at least to a subset of the population? Conclusive evidence from prospective human trials is not available, hence other sources of information must be considered. One approach is to examine the evolution of lactation, and the composition of milks that developed through millennia of natural selective pressure and natural selection processes. Mammalian milks, including human milk, contain 50% of their total fatty acids as saturated fatty acids. The biochemical formation of a single double bond converting a saturated to a monounsaturated fatty acid is a pathway that exists in all eukaryotic organisms and is active within the mammary gland. In the face of selective pressure, mammary lipid synthesis in all mammals continues to release a significant content of saturated fatty acids into milk. Is it possible that evolution of the mammary gland reveals benefits to saturated fatty acids that current recommendations do not consider?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-923
Number of pages9
JournalLipids
Volume45
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Dietary intake
  • Lipoproteins
  • Milk fat
  • Saturated fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Organic Chemistry

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