Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are Saturated Fats as Bad as We Have Been Led to Believe?

fondue, saturated fats, health 

 A US heart researcher looks set to inflame an argument over saturated fats. It has long been a health mantra that too much saturated fat like cheese and butter contributes to higher cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. But an editorial published in Open Heart suggests that saturated fats aren’t as bad as we have been led to believe.

Author James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, argues that the association between the high proportion of fat in total consumed calories and an increased risk of degenerative heart disease was based on selective data from the 1950s that overstated the risk. And the recommendations that it led to – that we lower our intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and increase carbohydrate – has given rise to the surging obesity.

The association between fat calories and heart disease risk was first made by Ancel Keys in the 1950s who first suggested a correlation between between cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease (CVD), which he later published in his Seven Countries Study. DiNicolantonio argues that another 16 countries were excluded from the data that would have made the association less clear and led to different dietary advice.

“It was believed that since fat is the most ‘calorie-dense’ of the macro-nutrients, a reduction in its consumption would lead to a reduction in calories and a subsequent decrease in the incidence of obesity, as well as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome,” he said. But turning to carbohydrates such as sugar and corn syrup has led to a parallel increase in diabetes and obesity in the US.

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