Food 4 Thought: Sat Fat & Your Gut

Gut Health, Health & Wellness, Heart Health


Together with my colleague, Dr. Stanley Hazen, a pioneer in studying the relationship between the gut and heart, our team recently published a paper showing for the first time that a diet high in saturated (Sat) fat produces more unhealthy gut byproducts that a predominantly plant-based diet .  Sat fat sources include animal fats (red & processed meats), fried foods and dairy products.  For more information on this paper click here.

In this study, we randomly assigned men and women to 3 different diets.  One diet was high in Sat Fat modeled after the Atkins Diet,  the 2nd diet was a  Mediterranean Diet resembling the South Beach Diet and the third was the low-fat, predominantly plant based, Ornish Diet.  Each volunteer participated in all 3 dietary phases with each diet lasting 4 weeks.  At the beginning of the study and end of each diet phase, blood samples were collected.  Our results indicated the following:

  1. Levels of the gut byproduct known as “TMAO” were highest after the high Sat Fat (Atkins diet) and lowest after the low fat, primary plant-based (Ornish) diet.
  2. Two amino acids (valine and leucine) were also highest after the Sat Fat diet compared to the other 2 diet phases.
  3. High levels of TMAO and the 2 amino acids listed are linked to increased risk of heart related issues.
  4. The bottom lineSubstitute plant-based foods low in Sat Fat for animal products high in Sat (& Trans) Fats- Your heart & gut will thank you!                                Michael Miller, MD is author of Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” & Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  

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