Dietary cholesterol will no more be a “nutrient of concern” in the new US Dietary Guidelines, according to its Advisory Committee. Most importantly, there might be no more upper limit on fat consumption. Indeed, the Advisory Committee concludes that a reduction of the total fat intake is not the way forward to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is fully in line with the position IMACE stands for.
This report reverses nearly 4 decades of nutrition policy that considered fat as the one nutrient to be reduced in the diet. Authorities wanted to reduce the intake of saturated fat, which was thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease; but this campaign quickly extended to all dietary fat, and the previous Guidelines imposed strong limits on dietary fat as part of our daily diet.
Yet the latest scientific evidence reports no relationship between the reduction of the overall fat intake and a reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease. Reducing the total fat intake obviously lowers the intake of the “good” fats, the ones that we should focus on in our diet such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, which can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, etc. Hence, dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing certain types of dietary fat instead of reducing total fat. As highlighted by IMACE, replacing saturated fats (SAFA) by monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. This has also been recognized by the European Food Safety Agency.
Health policies and the industry’s reformulation efforts should thus focus on improving the quality of the fat intake, with the final goal to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In this perspective, margarines can play a fundamental role in improving the fat profile of the diet, due to their natural content of good vegetable oils, high in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6).