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Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease Questioned

Fried Eggs in PanThe American Heart Association currently recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats consumed daily to less than seven percent of total daily calories in order to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, a new analysis performed by an international group led by researchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom challenges the current guidelines on saturated fat.

As published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the analysis included 72 separate studies on heart disease risk and intake of fatty acids. The studies included over 600,000 participants in 18 different countries.

Based on the meta-analysis, the researchers found no evidence supporting the guidelines recommending the restriction of saturated fat consumption in order to lower the risk of developing heart disease. The researchers also found insufficient evidence to support the guidelines that advice the consumption more foods containing polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 and omega-6) to reduce heart disease risk.

States Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, “This analysis of existing data suggests there isn’t enough evidence to say that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fats reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Lead author Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury of the University of Cambridge believes that the findings warrant careful questioning of current dietary guidelines:

“Cardiovascular disease, in which the principal manifestation is coronary heart disease, remains the single leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from a cardiovascular cause globally. With so many affected by this illness, it is critical to have appropriate prevention guidelines which are informed by the best available scientific evidence.”

Although the meta-analysis indicates that limiting saturated fat and increasing unsaturated fats do not decrease the risk of heart disease, additional research is needed to draw any firm conclusions based on the present evidence.

Advises Prof. Pearson, “Alongside taking any necessary medication, the best way to stay heart healthy is to stop smoking, stay active, and ensure our whole diet is healthy – and this means considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.”

References

Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1846638
Experts Question Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274166.php
New Evidence Raises Qquestions About the Link Between Fatty Acids and Heart Disease: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-03/uoc-ner031414.php

Image Credits

Fried Eggs in Pan: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/811953

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