Recent research was saying that people eating lots of saturated fats were not more exposed to cardiovascular disease than others. A new Harvard study casts doubt on these surprising findings and provides clear explanations on the link between fats and cardiovascular disease.
Some recent studies were suggesting that people cutting down on saturated fats were not likely to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those who kept eating them. Yet this was in contradiction with the long-term advice of cardiologists who suggest that replacing saturated fats (found in butter) with unsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils and margarine) significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Harvard researchers provide, in a large prospective study a very logical explanation for the discrepancy amongst these findings. The key, they say, is the quality of fat replacement. When making lifestyle change in our diet, we should pay attention to what we replace saturated fats with. For example, when people cut on saturated fats, they might replace it with highly refined carbohydrates. Unfortunately such a change in the diet does not help to reduce the risk of CVD, as highlighted by fellow researcher Yanping Li.
Instead, we should pay attention to which nutrients we replace saturated fats with. The risk of cardiovascular health disease can be reduced by replacing saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The findings showed that by replacing 5 per cent of energy intake from saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, we could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 25 per cent. Replacing the same amount with monounsaturated fat – such as olive oil – reduced heart disease risk by 15 per cent.
This high-quality study supports IMACE’s position on saturated and polyunsaturated fats and confirms there is strong and consistent evidence that replacement nutrients are of high importance.