A new report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has combined results of 21 academic studies and determined that there is no evidence of any links between satudared fat and heart disease.
In the past, “Research has shown that saturated fat can raise blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and elevated LDL is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because of this, experts generally advise people to limit their intake of fatty meat, butter and full-fat dairy.
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults get no more than 7 percent of their daily calories from the fat; for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that translates into fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat per day.
But in the new analysis, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may sound like good news for steak lovers, but a past AHA president cautioned against “over interpreting” the results.
“No one is saying that some saturated fat is going to harm you…people should enjoy their food,” said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
But, he pointed out, many studies have shown that dietary saturated fat can raise people’s cholesterol, and the new analysis is not going to change recommendations to keep saturated fat intake in check.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Eckel said that the thinking on diet and heart health is moving away from a focus on single nutrients and toward “dietary patterns.”
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