Recent studies show no positive association between saturated fats and heart disease. To the contrary, some are suggesting an association between heart disease and low consumption of saturated fats.
By Dawn Flemming
For years, literature and media have argued that saturated fat is one of the main causes of heart disease. Foods that contain saturated fat are animal fats, dairy and even coconut oil.
The proposal that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart diseases can be traced back to the 1950s. Although the suggestion has been popular, there is no reliable evidence that this is the case and none of the studies that have even suggested this are consistent. In fact, the British Journal of Sports Medicine simply states that this hypothesis is plain wrong.
To the contrary, there have been systematic studies evaluating this hypothesis and they have reached the opposite conclusion.
Nutrition Coalition writes
Summary of the data: The rigorous trial data do not support the allegation that saturated fats cause cardiovascular mortality or total mortality. While saturated fats can be shown to raise the “bad” LDL-cholesterol, this elevated risk factor does not result in higher mortality rates, very likely reflecting a more complicated pathway for cardiovascular disease than simply LDL-C (i.e., saturated fats also consistently raise the “good” HDL-cholesterol, which may be a compensating effect).
There are 17 systematic analyses of the trial data, and the following conclusion is made:
“To summarise, the results of most meta-analyses do not support the diet-heart hypothesis or the recommendation to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat.”
After metastudies showed that there is no association between saturated fat and heart disease, it seems that the opposite is actually true:
there is a substantial observational finding that low consumption of saturated fats is associated with higher mortality and higher rates of stroke.
Remember that here we are summarizing some of the more recent findings on the association between heart disease and saturated fats. This must not be taken as a license to follow a diet contrary to your doctor’s advice, especially if you are a senior. So before you take this article into practice, make sure to consult with your doctor first.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.