Monday, August 31, 2015

Is Saturated Fat Bad for You?

A new review suggests that saturated fats, like those found in may dairy products and meat, may not be the big contributors to heart disease or early death that many think they are.

However, the Canadian researchers who did the review did find a clear link between heart troubles and trans fats, which are found in highly processed foods such as snacks, margarine and baked goods.

“Not all the studies we looked at reached the same conclusion, but generally what we found is that the association between a higher consumption of trans fats and a higher risk for heart disease and [early] death was very consistent,” said study author Russell de Souza.

“And because we found no evidence that trans fat offers any health benefit, removing it from the foods we eat is the right idea,” added de Souza, a registered dietician and an assistant professor of clinical epidemiology & biostatistics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

“On the other hand, the association between consuming saturated fat and a higher risk for similar health issues was variable and unclear,” he added.  “But we want to be careful.  We’re not saying that we’re confident that saturated fat is truly benign.”

De Souza and his colleagues reported their findings in the August 11 issues of the BMJ.

The study authors said that current dietary guidelines advocate limiting saturated fat consumption to less than 10% of total caloric intake, and limiting trans fats to less than 1% of one’s diet.

The team’s saturated fat analysis involved 41 studies conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Canada, China, Greece and Australia.

Their look at trans fat focused on 20 studies conducted in the United States, Finland, China, and the Netherlands.

In the end, no link was found between saturated fat and a higher risk for stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or any higher risk of dying from any cause.

On the other hand, the review did draw a strong link between the higher consumption of trans fat and a 34% bump in the risk of dying early form any cause, as well as a 28% bump in the risk of dying early specifically from heart disease.

My Take:
This study is in line with current dietary guidelines allowing ten times more saturated fat than trans fat. However, I agree with de Souza’s comment that trans fats have no health benefit and should be removed from our food supply.  The next step is to review the association between high cholesterol and heart attacks that drives the statin drug industry.  I think we are headed in that direction, but progress is slow.

The Bottom Line:
Please remove all trans fat from your diet.  It is very difficult for the body to process.  The half-life of a trans fat in the human body is 59 days and it takes 5 half-lives to completely remove a substance from the body.  That means the trans fats from those French fries you ate last night will remain in your body for the next 9 months.

Source: August 11, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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