Unlike humans, grizzly bears experience no immediate adverse effects from eating a diet rich in saturated fats, according to results of a new study. Researchers fed two groups of captive bears different diets, one high in “healthy” fats like oats and salmon and the other full of saturated fats like beef and cheese. The bears were fed prior to hibernation and examined once they woke up in the spring. Cholesterol and insulin levels of grizzlies with a saturated fats-rich diet were comparable to the other group’s. However, the group that was fed saturated fats also showed signs of mild inflammation and heart strain. Bears encounter saturated fats most often in garbage left out by people, and the present study suggests that, while not immediately dangerous, such foods could be detrimental to the animals’ long-term health.


D.R. Rivet, O.L. Nelson, C.A. Vella, H.T. Jansen, C.T. Robbins

Corresponding author: 

Danielle Rivet, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, SK, Email: danielle.rivet@usask.ca

Original paper published in Canadian Journal of Zoology on October 30, 2017.