Lets Not Focus Solely On Saturated Fat
Could it be that research to date has focused too heavily on specific macro- or micronutrients?
Previous research has suggested that saturated fat is more harmful in the US than in Europe. Its unlikely that Americans respond differently to saturated fat than their EU counterparts and much more likely that its the way the two populations consume saturated fat which is at play.
In the US, the majority of saturated fat is consumed in meat. In Europe, and more specifically the Netherlands, saturated fat is mostly consumed in dairy.
We do not eat saturated fat or poly- or monounsaturated fat, or vitamin C or vitamin D. We eat food, said Prof Visioli. So if you just focus on saturated fat, are you missing the ?
You should look at meat, you should look at dairy products, or you should look at products with palm oil or other kinds of fat . We should really start to think of the whole food rather than a single ingredient.
In saying that, the professor told delegates he was not condoning a diet high in saturated fat: Dont eat too much fat, in general, because its high calorie.
But he does advocate for dietary guidelines to be revisited. Weve been told by the WHO and many other organisations to reduce saturated fatbut maybe we should revisit this approach. Because the recommendations of the WHO do not take into account the latest evidence.
Continue Learning About Fats
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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How Much You Can Eat
Most foods have a combination of different fats. You are better off choosing foods higher in healthier fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats tend to be liquid at room temperature.
How much should you get every day? Here are recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- You should get no more than 25% to 30% of your daily calories from fats.
- You should limit saturated fat to less than 10% of your daily calories.
- To further reduce your heart disease risk, limit saturated fats to less than 7% of your total daily calories.
- For a 2,000 calorie diet, that is 140 to 200 calories or 16 to 22 grams of saturated fats a day. As an example, just 1 slice of cooked bacon contains nearly 9 g of saturated fat.
- If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, your health care provider may ask you to limit saturated fat even more.
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The Link Between Saturated Fats And Heart Disease
Up until now, health experts have recommended limiting intakes of all types of saturated fats due to its correlation with an increase in LDL cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
However, recent research has focused on the food sources of saturated fat and the link between those foods and heart disease. It is clear that we cannot lump all sources of saturated fats together in terms of their association with heart disease, it depends on the food.
Foods are more than just the sum of their parts. They contain many different nutrients, vitamins, minerals and properties that may act together to prevent or cause certain diseases. Findings show us that the link between heart disease and saturated fats depends on what food sources it comes from.
Big Fat Controversy: Changing Opinions About Saturated Fats
- Nutritionists have long vilified saturated fat for its propensity to raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Although initial epidemiological studies associated saturated fat intake with heart disease risk, subsequent studies have failed to confirm the link.
- Saturated fat raises HDL cholesterol levels, perhaps ameliorating its effects on LDL cholesterol.
- An unintended consequence of a low-fat diet may be increased carbohydrate intake, which could actually raise heart disease risk compared with a higher-fat diet.
In the early hours of September 24, 1955, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack. The popular president and war hero was visiting in-laws in Denver, Colorado, where he had enjoyed 27 holes of golf before retiring early that evening with what he thought was indigestion. Although Eisenhower recovered and went on to win a second term in office, his sudden incapacitation heightened public awareness of the growing epidemic of cardiovascular disease. Once a rare ailment, by the 1950s heart disease had become the leading cause of death in the United States. What diet, lifestyle, or other factors were responsible for this dramatic change? People were looking for a scapegoat, and nutritional scientists were soon to provide one.
The problem with epidemiology
Time for a change?
Laura Cassiday is a science writer for Inform magazine. She is based in the Denver area and can be reached at .
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Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease
While the topic is still hotly debated among healthcare professionals, recent research has shown no consistent link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
Its true that saturated fat increases well-known heart disease risk factors, such as LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B .
However, saturated fat intake tends to increase the amount of large, fluffy LDL particles, but decrease the amount of smaller, denser LDL particles that are linked to heart disease.
Plus, research has demonstrated that certain types of saturated fat may increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol .
In fact, numerous large studies have found no consistent association between saturated fat intake and heart disease, heart attack, or heart-disease-related death (
Remember that there are many types of saturated fats, all with different effects on health. Your diet as a whole rather than the breakdown of your macronutrient intake is most important when it comes to your overall health and disease risk.
Nutritious foods high in saturated fat like full fat yogurt, unsweetened coconut, cheese, and dark cuts of poultry can certainly be included in a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Although saturated fat intake increases the risk of certain heart disease risk factors, current research shows that its not significantly linked to heart disease development.
Increased Ldl: Hdl Serum Cholesterol Ratio
Saturated fat from red and processed meat increases both LDL and HDL cholesterol . Dietary trans fatty acids also increase LDL cholesterol, but without increasing HDL cholesterol it likely even reduces HDL . Dietary substitution analyses show that substituting mono- and polyunsatured fats for trans and saturated fats reduces LDL cholesterol without reducing HDL or increasing triglycerides . LDL/HDL ratios strongly predict negative cardiovascular consequences, such as leading to atheromatous plaques, which reduce blood flow to the heart by narrowing coronary arteries. Reduced blood flow from consequences of increased LDL/HDL ratio can ultimately lead to myocardial infarction . However, more research is needed to determine whether ruminant trans fatty acids from animals vs trans fat from industrial partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils has different effects .
Alexandra Ilkevitch MD, … J. Adam Rindfleisch MPhil, MD, in, 2018
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Making Healthy Food Choices
Saturated fats are found in all animal foods, and some plant sources.
The following foods may be high in saturated fats. Many of them are also low in nutrients and have extra calories from sugar:
- Baked goods
- Fried foods
- Fatty or processed meats
- Whole-fat dairy products
- Solid fats such as coconut oil, palm, and palm kernel oils
Here are some examples of popular food items with the saturated fat content in a typical serving:
- 12 ounces , or 340 g, steak — 20 g
- Cheeseburger — 10 g
Theres A Lot Of Conflicting Information About Saturated Fats Should I Eat Them Or Not
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods, and tropical oils. Decades of sound science has proven it can raise your bad cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease.
The more important thing to remember is the overall dietary picture. Saturated fats are just one piece of the puzzle. In general, you cant go wrong eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and taking in fewer calories.
When you hear about the latest diet of the day or a new or odd-sounding theory about food, consider the source. The American Heart Association makes dietary recommendations only after carefully considering the latest scientific evidence.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
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Papers Of Particular Interest Published Recently Have Been Highlighted As: Of Importance
This article provides a review of the association of saturated fat with CVD, with a particular emphasis on why and how the nutrient that replaces saturated fat mattersThis study provides strong epidemiologic data to support an improvement in CVD risk when saturated fat is replaced with polyunsaturated fatThis is one of the first studies to document a difference in the risk associated with CHD of carbohydrates of varying quality
Myth: I Dont Need Statins Or Other Medicines For My Cholesterol I Can Manage My Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise
Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Guidelinesexternal icon also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.2
People who may need statins or other medicines to manage cholesterol levels include the following:
- People with familial hypercholesterolemia or people with very high levels of bad cholesterol. FH is a genetic condition that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age. If left untreated, cholesterol levels will continue to get worse. This greatly raises the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke at a young age.
- People with cardiovascular disease . People with CVD may already have narrowed arteries because of too much plaque. Medicines that lower cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
- People with diabetes.Type 2 diabetes lowers HDL or good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels. This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other groups of people may also need medicines to manage their cholesterol, including people who have a high risk for CVD. Always talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your cholesterol.
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How Sugar Really Affects Your Cholesterol
If youre like most people, you probably think its high-cholesterol foods like eggs or shrimp that are the worst for your cholesterol levels. But thats not really the case.
Because its not actually the cholesterol in food thats the problem. Most of the cholesterol that circulates inside our bodies is made inside our bodies, and not absorbed from the diet. So, its not about avoiding foods that naturally contain cholesterol, its about avoiding foods that prompt our bodies to create cholesterol.
The most powerful driver of cholesterol production?
Believe it or not, its sugar!
When I say sugar, I mean added sugars and simple carbohydrates that can be rapidly turned into sugar within our bodies. Think not only sweets , but other foods containing or made from refined grains like white rice, breads, bagels and pasta.
All carbohydrates are absorbed as sugar. And when blood sugar levels go up , the body responds by releasing insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone that makes sure sugar is stored in our bodies for use between meals. But it doesnt just cause sugar to be stored. It shifts our bodies into storage mode in general.
Keto Diet And Cholesterol: Does It Help Or Hurt
Given the fact that the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet one which emphasizes foods like coconut oil, butter and meat this leaves many people wondering: Is the keto diet bad for your heart? Despite what you might think, the keto diet has actually been associated with improvements in cardiovascular health.
Is the keto diet safe for someone with high cholesterol? Because keto is rich in fats, including saturated fat and cholesterol found naturally in animal-derived foods like eggs and meat, many people will experience an increase in cholesterol after beginning the keto diet. However, studies suggest the connection between the keto diet and cholesterol is actually positive.
Recently, weve come to understand that higher cholesterol isnt always a bad thing, and rather that experiencing chronic inflammation as well as elevated triglycerides, due to causes like an overall poor diet, insulin resistance and unhealthy lifestyle, is likely a much bigger threat.
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Foods High In Fiber Low In Saturated Fat Can Lower Cholesterol
While saturated fat and dietary cholesterol both play a role in your cholesterol level, experts stress that the most important dietary change you can make to lower your cholesterol numbers is to adjust the overall pattern of your diet. Best is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. This helps in two ways. First, the more of these healthful foods you eat, the less you generally consume of foods that are high in saturated fat and highly refined carbohydrates, which both damage the cardiovascular system. Second, high-fiber foods help reduce your cholesterol level by making unhealthy dietary fats harder to absorb from the gut.
This doesn’t work for everyone, however. For people at high risk of heart disease, dietary efforts don’t come close to lowering cholesterol enough. Other people are genetically predisposed to having high blood cholesterol regardless of what they eat.
High Carbohydrate Intake Contributes To Dyslipidemia
Elevated triglycerides, reduced HDL cholesterol concentrations, and increased concentrations of small, dense LDL particles characterize the dyslipidemia that is part of a metabolic profile considered to be a major contributor to increased CVD risk. Both insulin resistance and high carbohydrate intakes have been shown to contribute to this dyslipidemia, and refined carbohydrates, in particular, can raise triglyceride and lower HDL cholesterol concentrations . Of interest, reductions in dietary carbohydrate, even in the context of a diet high in saturated fat, have been associated with reduced concentrations of small, dense LDL .
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Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
Cholesterol And Heart Disease: The Role Of Diet
Your diet clearly plays a role in determining your cholesterol levels, but if you’re like most people, the most important factor isn’t how much cholesterol-rich food you eat. Rather, it’s what else you eat. Figuring this out has been a learning process.
Initially, the news that cholesterol in the bloodstream was linked to heart disease prompted an all-out war on cholesterol in food. From the 1960s on, people were advised to stay away from foods rich in cholesterol, like eggs, dairy foods, and some types of seafood. But today, the science suggests that, for most people, dietary cholesterol has only a modest effect on the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. In fact, the 20152020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans eliminated an earlier recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams per dayalthough they still suggest caution on overall intake.
Notably, the guidelines did not change the recommendation on saturated fat, which is found mainly in animal-based foods such as meat and dairyand is often found in high-cholesterol foods. Saturated fat in the diet clearly does raise LDL by a significant amount and should still be consumed in limited quantities. And although some research has cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that saturated fat is linked with heart disease, other research upholds the link.
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Lipid Effects Of Reducing Saturated Fat
Studies that evaluate the effects of saturated fat on lipids and lipoproteins under weight-stable conditions inherently test the replacement of saturated fat with other nutrients.
Replacement of Saturated Fat with Polyunsaturated Fat
Replacement of Saturated Fat with Monounsaturated Fat
Replacement of saturated fat with monounsaturated fat has also been associated with decreased total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol, although the magnitude of reduction for each of these lipids is slightly less than when polyunsaturated fats are the replacement nutrient .
Replacement of Saturated Fat with Carbohydrate