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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver. Many people have no symptoms of the disease, but can end up with cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. In addition, the liver can scar and not work properly, causing serious health issues if the problem isn’t dealt with.

Fatty meats
While obesity is a major risk factor for fatty liver disease, some overweight people develop it and others don’t. A group of researchers in Europe designed an overfeeding study to see if it’s the type of fat that makes a difference to the amount of fat that accumulates in the liver. Thirty-eight overweight volunteers were split into three different groups. Along with the food they normally ate each day, they consumed 4200kJ (1000 calories) extra for three weeks. The extra foods were provided and the participants were carefully monitored throughout.

  • The fats in group 1’s extra calories were mainly saturated including coconut oil, butter, and blue cheese. 
  • The fats in group 2’s were mainly unsaturated fats including olive oil, pesto, pecan nuts, and a little butter (20g). 
  • Group 3’s extra calories came from naturally occurring and added sugars in fruit juice, sugar-sweetened beverages, and candy. 

While all three extra calorie diets produced an increase in the amount of fat in the liver, the diet rich in saturated fats produced a greater amount of liver fat than the others along with increased insulin resistance which leads to type 2 diabetes. In their conclusion, the researchers recommend that people with fatty liver disease should avoid foods rich in saturated fat to help reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

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