Saturated Fat: Do we need to re-think it?

Haven’t got long? This is what you need to know:   Dietary saturated fat has been established as a causative risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease for the past 50 years, a recent meta-analysis of all the scientific evidence to date by the University of Cambridge (part-funded by the British Heart Foundation) challenged this notion.   The investigators showed that saturated fat intake, omega-6 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids were neutrally related to risk for coronary events (although this had been challenged by Harvard School of Public Health and Prof Jim Mann from the University of Otago ) Trans-fatty acids (such as hydrogenated vegetable oils) were associated with a 16% increased risk of coronary events. Circulating omega 3 fatty acids and margaric acid (a saturated fatty acid from dairy protein) in the bloodstream were associated with reduced risk of coronary events.   The investigation yields interesting data but some flaws in the analysis mean that current dietary guidance still stands until we know more:   Keep your saturated fats less than <10% of your overall intake, avoid hydrogenated fats wherever possible (look for it on the label) but don’t sweat about the odd bit of butter, full cream milk or a nice piece of steak a couple of times a week. Everything in Moderation. Whilst this study did not look at the relative risk of lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol intake. All are known risk factor for coronary events. So if you need to trim down, ditch the cigarettes and cut back on the drink, it would be a very good idea. Fish oil or other fatty acid supplementation may not protect against coronary events but there was debate amongst the investigators with regards to this and no negative effect was shown. There are wider benefits to ensuring omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids (such as those found in nuts, seeds, olive oil) are in the diet. Keep eating oily fish twice a week and eating nut and seed oils in moderation.       Why all the controversy? Dietary fats tend to have […]

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