Recent research shows that saturated fat is not the enemy of your heart

Photo Credit: fcafotodigital - Getty Images
Photo Credit: fcafotodigital – Getty Images

From cycling

  • Limiting foods rich in saturated fatty acids in the diet has no heart health benefit or overall risk of death, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

  • Saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol, but generally large, “fluffy” LDL particles that are not considered harmful, rather than small, dense LDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Focusing on eating whole foods instead of cutting or limiting fat is a preferable health strategy, according to the researchers.

Eating a diet that includes whole foods rich in saturated fat will not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or lead to premature death, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiologand.

The research review was published ahead of the publication of the new USDA Dietary Guidelines later this year, with the intention of defending the long-standing upper limit on saturated fat intake.

In 2016, after decades of urging Americans to monitor their overall fat intake, the USDA officially removed the upper limit for total daily fat. However, they kept the saturated fat limit, which recommends keeping saturated fat at no more than 10 percent of daily calories, a guide that has been in place since 1980.

Now, after analyzing decades of data on saturated fat and health, a group of scientists says it’s time to raise that limit, too.

Summarizing meta-analyzes and other studies involving hundreds of thousands of people, the study concludes that reducing foods rich in saturated fatty acids does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or death from any cause. Conversely, some research suggested that there was a lower risk of stroke with increased consumption of saturated fat.

It is true that eating saturated fatty acids such as stearic, palmitic, myristic and lauric acids, which are found in dairy products, meat, eggs and other foods rich in fat, increase undesirable low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Cholesterol, but in most people, this type of “bad” cholesterol does not increase.

Specifically, saturated fat generally does not increase levels of small, dense LDL cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease, but increases levels of larger, more buoyant LDL particles, which are unrelated to increased risk.

By limiting wholesale “saturated fats,” you could miss out on foods that provide high-quality nutrition and possibly substitute them for a much less healthy option, such as starchy or processed carbohydrates, which actually increase the risk of disease. heart disease, according to the researchers. Therefore, it is better to focus on the overall quality of the food in your diet rather than any specific macronutrient.

“Among foods that are generally called ‘saturated fat’, some are healthy and some are not, so the amount of saturated fatty acids (OSS) in a food is not a good predictor of whether it is healthy,” study researcher Tom Brenna, Ph.D., professor of Human Nutrition and Pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin, said Bicycling.

“That is, considering only the content of saturated fats would lead to avoiding very healthy foods: whole dairy, fermented foods [yogurt, cheeses], and others. As a general rule, traditional whole foods are generally healthier than highly processed foods, “said Brenna.

Dairy, for example, is a major source of saturated fatty acids, but food-based meta-analyzes have found that eating more cheese and yogurt is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

Similarly, eggs are rich in saturated fatty acids, but they are also rich in nutrients and provide antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that are difficult to obtain in other foods. Studies have come and gone over the years regarding the relationship between egg consumption and heart disease, but several meta-analyzes have found that increased egg consumption is not associated with CHD risk and may be associated with a lower risk of stroke, for example researchers.

Dark chocolate contains stearic acid, a fatty acid that does not increase or decrease the risk of CVD. But if you skip the cocoa-based confection due to its saturated fat content, you’ll also miss out on flavonols, which reduce inflammation, are good for your vascular health, and may even raise your maximum VO2 (how efficiently you use oxygen).

Finally, although processed meat, such as sausages and hot dogs, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, unprocessed meat has not, indicating that the saturated fat in meat itself is not to blame for the high risk, the researchers said.

The bottom line: eating real food is better for your heart and overall health than stressing about a particular macronutrient.

It’s worth noting that six of the 11 researchers in the document have received funding from dairy, beef, and other food associations and foundations. Many of the 130 documents cited have no competing interests or claim no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation of results.

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