Tayside and Central Scotland

Fish could help fatty festive diets, Stirling University study says

Christmas dinner Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption High-fat diets are particularly common over the festive period

The impact of binging on high-fat foods at Christmas could be lessened by adding fish to the menu, Stirling University scientists have found.

Research at the university found that fish oil provides important protective qualities to muscles in a high-fat diet.

The study saw healthy young men take on a fat-heavy 4,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Those who replaced some of the fat with fish gained weight in a different fashion from those who did not.

Research student Sophie Wardle, who led the study, explained that the oils in the fish resulted in the increase of a protein which helps break down fat in muscles.

Fat accumulation

She said: "This suggests there may be some benefits to consuming more oily fish in place of other fats during periods of excess fat intake.

"Those who only had the high fat diet and no fish oil gained weight mainly around their stomach, whereas those taking the fish oils gained weight in different areas.

"This finding could be relevant for long-term risk as fat accumulation in the central stomach area is strongly associated with obesity and diabetes."

The study also found subjects had a reduced sensitivity to insulin following the short high-fat diet, meaning they were less able to handle a high load of sugar.

Ms Wardle added: "The fact that many of us are flexible enough to deal with such a high fat load is quite impressive, but the findings do come with a health warning, especially at Christmas.

"Everyone enjoys eating more than usual at this time, but this diet over a longer period of time is not the way to go."

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