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Ask Tufts Experts April 2017 Issue

"Good" Fats and an Inflamed Pancreas

Can an inflamed pancreas handle the "good" fats - from avocados, nuts, and olives?

Q: After acute inflammation of the gallbladder and pancreas, I was advised a low-fat diet. Do these organs distinguish between good and bad fats?

Alicia Romano, MS, RD, a clinical dietitian at Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center, explains:

"Fats in all forms, 'healthy' or 'unhealthy,' require emulsification (breakdown into smaller particles) and digestion in order to become usable in the body, and that involves the gallbladder and pancreas. As food moves from the stomach into the small intestine [where the majority of fat digestion occurs], hormones stimulate the gallbladder and pancreas to release digestive juices. Large, complex fat globules in the small intestine are emulsified by bile from the gallbladder and then acted on by pancreatic enzymes. Therefore, any fat consumed in the diet will stimulate secretions from the gallbladder and pancreas, regardless of how healthy the fats are." Still, for the small amounts of fat you can eat, prioritize healthy ones: vegetable oils (such as soybean, canola and olive) nuts, seeds, avocados and omega-3-rich fish.

Comments (2)

In one of the many "fix yourself with nutrition," I read that a tablespoon of olive oil before a meal will help to emulsify the other fats in the next meal you eat. I tried it and it worked for me as I had a sluggish gall bladder. Is this just a myth or is there some validity to this idea. Did this years ago. I am 89 now.

Posted by: Gwenn Truax | December 5, 2017 2:47 PM    Report this comment

What are the health and metabolic risks associated with daily Coconut oil ingestion I do know it is a fully saturated fat with no double bonds. When I see it or palm oil in the ingrediant listing, I will not purchase these items. Need data. If you have info or a website for animal intake of it daily and the non-intended consequences - it would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by: Betty Bernard | December 9, 2017 4:26 PM    Report this comment

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