Saturated Fat Does Not Equal Heart Disease

saturated fatIn a study published by Annals of Internal Medicine, it was determined that saturated fat alone did not predict heart disease. The study included data from over 600,000 people in Europe, North America and Asia. It is now believed that there needs to be a shift from blaming heart disease on saturated fat to creating an awareness of the food groups that are known to be harmful for the body. The study specifically mentions processed foods as one of the most harmful groups. In addition, there has been evidence to suggest poor diets, inactivity, as well as smoking and drinking alcohol are the greatest culprits of heart disease.

Fats have been long blamed for the obesity epidemic which leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart diseases, stroke, and cancer. More specifically, saturated fats have been attributed to higher cholesterol which in turn increases blood pressure and in most cases leads to heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 600,000 people die every year from heart disease, making it the leading cause of death among men and women. The leading causes of heart disease being obesity, diabetes, inactivity, poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse.

At the moment, the American Heart Association recommends a person eats no more than seven percent of their daily calories from saturated fat. Health officials have been informing the public for years to avoid saturated fats in favor of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are mostly found in nuts, vegetable oils and fish. But according to a new study published by Annals of Medicine, there is no evidence to suggest that saturated fats alone can induce heart disease. The study found no direct correlation between eating saturated fats and heart disease. More importantly it also did not find a correlation between eating unsaturated fats and lower risks of heart disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products.

The Harvard School of Public Health lists pizza and dairy as the highest source of saturated fat in the American diet, others are burgers, sausages, candy and butter. Which begs to differ, if saturated fats were believed to be conducive to heart disease than why has coconut oil been at the top of the health list for so many years? Coconut oil is high in saturated fats yet low in cholesterol. Nevertheless, it is considered a miracle food, with studies showing it helps lower cholesterol. Another factor of interest is that they did not find any benefits from taking omega-3 and omega-6 supplements; they discovered the body only absorbs them from foods such as flaxseed, kale and spinach.

The lead researchers of the study do not recommended people immediately begin a diet high in saturated fats. They propose large-scale clinical studies in order to positively identify if there is indeed a true link between saturated fat and heart disease. For now they recommend diets that are high in what are considered healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet has been previously recommended and is believed to reduce heart disease. It is a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in animal products.

By Dony Lugo

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