Side Effects of Eating Fatty Foods
Fatty foods can cause immediate side effects such as gas, bloating, acid reflux and heartburn, and long-term effects such as increased risk for heart disease. While some fats are necessary for wellness, other should be limited. The New York Times Health Guide recommends limiting intake of saturated and trans fats and consuming unsaturated, plant-based fats, such as olive oil and nuts, for improved wellness. For best results, seek specified guidance from a health care professional.
Gas and Bloating
Gas is a natural part of the digestive process. Excessive gas, however, can cause physical discomfort and embarrassment. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, fatty foods can delay stomach emptying and cause abdominal discomfort and bloating. After eating high-fat food, a person may belch or pass gas more frequently or experience gas build-up, pain and puffiness in the abdominal area. Eating large amounts of fatty foods increases the risk of gas, bloating and related symptoms. Deep-fried fatty foods such as french fries, and processed meats such as bacon and sausage, also contain rich amounts of sodium, which can further exacerbate gas and bloating.
- Gas is a natural part of the digestive process.
- Eating large amounts of fatty foods increases the risk of gas, bloating and related symptoms.
Acid Reflux and Heartburn
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Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates back up into the esophagus, triggering a bitter aftertaste, difficulty swallowing, nausea and/or heartburn. Occasional acid reflux is generally mild and treated with antacids or lifestyle remedies, such as improved dietary habits. Frequent acid reflux is the primary characteristic of a chronic condition called GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disease. Fatty foods are common triggers for acid reflux and heartburn symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Eating large meals and exercising shortly after eating fatty foods may also contribute. Fatty foods are also associated with increased risk for unhealthy weight gain and obesity — additional risk factors for acid reflux, heartburn and GERD.
- Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates back up into the esophagus, triggering a bitter aftertaste, difficulty swallowing, nausea and/or heartburn.
- Fatty foods are also associated with increased risk for unhealthy weight gain and obesity — additional risk factors for acid reflux, heartburn and GERD.
Increased Risk for Disease
Fatty foods that contain saturated fat, trans fats and/or cholesterol are linked to poor heart health and increased risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiac arrest. Excessive consumption of unhealthy fats is also a major risk factor for heart disease, a leading cause of death in America, according to the New York Times Health Guide. Foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol include beef, beef fat, lamb, veal, organ meats, poultry fat, whole milk, butter, cream and egg yolks. Processed foods such as commercially prepared cookies, cakes, chips, crackers and fast food, are major contributors of trans fats. Consuming more than 10 percent of your daily calories in the form of saturated fat and 1 percent in the form of trans fat increases your risk for fatty food-related health problems.
- Fatty foods that contain saturated fat, trans fats and/or cholesterol are linked to poor heart health and increased risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
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- The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- University of Maryland Medical Center: GERD Facts and Treatment
- New York Times Health Guide: Dietary Fat Sources and Effects
- Acid reflux (GER and GERD) in adults. niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults
- Diet changes for GERD. (2017). aboutgerd.org/diet-lifestyle-changes/diet-changes-for-gerd.html
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- Kubo A, et al. (2009). Effects of dietary fiber, fats, and meat intakes on the risk of Barrett’s esophagus. doi: 10.1080/01635580902846585
- Shapiro M, Green C, Bautista JM, et al. Assessment of dietary nutrients that influence perception of intra-oesophageal acid reflux events in patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007;25(1):93-101.
- Wang A, Mattek NC, Holub JL, Lieberman DA, Eisen GM. Prevalence of complicated gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett's esophagus among racial groups in a multi-center consortium. Dig Dis Sci. 2009;54(5):964-71.
- Wu P, Zhao XH, Ai ZS, et al. Dietary intake and risk for reflux esophagitis: a case-control study. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2013;2013:691026.
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.