Processing Saturated Fat

Processing Saturated Fat

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. They give you energy, help you build new cells and are essential in absorbing certain vitamins. There are three types of fat: saturated, unsaturated and trans. Saturated fat is ‘bad’ fat. Too much of it can increase blood cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

What is the APOE gene?

The APOE gene produces a protein called the apolipoprotein E which plays a key role in fat metabolism. Its main role is to accept fats from cells and transport them to the liver for excretion. In this way, apolipoproteins  help to clear fats and cholesterol and therefore reduce the likelihood of high cholesterol and obesity.

What is the effect of genetic variation at the genes analysed?

Individuals with two alleles produce less apolipoprotein than individuals that have one alleles or no SNP. Therefore less fat and cholesterol is removed from the body and there is a higher risk of obesity and high blood pressure.  

People with the two alleles tend to experience a 6.2% increase in BMI when  saturated fat consumption is high, compared to people with no risk alleles.

Are there different types of fat?


There are three types of fats but they differ in their effect on your health.

  1. Saturated fats. These are found in meat and dairy products. Consumption leads to an increase in both Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease.

  2. Unsaturated fats. These are found in nuts, fish and avocado. Unsaturated fats are lower LDL cholesterol and are commonly thought of as healthy fats.

  3. Trans fats. These are found in processed foods and fried foods. They increase your risk of heart disease and should be avoided as part of a healthy diet.

Are all fats bad for your health?

No. Unsaturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet.

Unsaturated fats are an essential source of fatty acids which the body can’t make itself. These provide energy and also help the body to absorb vitamins A, D and E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.

Only fat that isn’t used by your cells is converted into body fat. This is the same as what happens to unused proteins and carbohydrates.

It is recommended that less than 10% of your daily calories is from saturated fat.

Backed by Science

Our in-house scientists have sorted through thousands of studies and we only use genes that are backed by a significant body of peer-reviewed research. Check out Nell’s Science Standard for more information.