New paper confirms that replacing SAFA with PUFA reduces risk of cardiovascular disease

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Portion of healthy golden Linseed Oil (close-up shot)

All dietary fat recommendations for heart health recommend to limit the intake of saturated fat, despite several studies demonstrating no link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. A new paper called “Dietary Fatty acids: is it time to change the Recommendations?” discusses the evidence linking dietary fatty acids and cardiovascular disease.

Three experts on dietary fat and health (Ronald Mensink (Maastricht University, the Netherlands), Julie Lovegrove (University of Reading, UK) and Ursula Schwab (University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland)) met at a symposium to discuss the evidence for reducing saturated fat (SAFA) intakes. The paper is a summary of their presentations.

Experts agreed that dietary guidelines should continue to recommend limiting dietary SAFA consumption. At the same time, dietary guidelines should emphasize the importance of replacing SAFA with PUFA to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), as noted by Ronald Mensink.

Julie Lovegrove concluded that partial replacement of SAFA with mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) may reduce the risk of CVD. However data are inconclusive about the effect of MUFA on the risk of CVD mortality. Replacement of trans fatty acids with PUFA has the most favorable effect on reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and therefore the risk of CVD.

Expert Ursula Schwab highlighted the fact that dietary recommendations should shift their focus away from single nutrients toward more healthful foods, such as whole grains. We should also shift towards dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean, DASH and Healthy Nordic diets, which promote health and reduce the risk of CVD, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

The paper follows a symposium on SAFA which was held during the FENS (Federation of European Nutrition Societies) meeting in Berlin (23 October 2015). The symposium was hosted by the International Expert Movement to Improve Dietary Fat Quality (IEM), an initiative of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.

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