saturated fats

Is Saturated Fat Unhealthy?

Eating the right diet and getting enough saturated fat is essential. Studies are showing that there is no link between these fats and a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. 

It was once thought that saturated fats were leading to heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. It’s looking more like a myth than a fact. Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature like the fat in meats, butter, lard, etc. [1].

Study 1

This study includes 15 randomized controlled trials with over 59,000 participants.

Each of these studies had a control group, reduced saturated fat or replaced it with other types of fat, lasted for at least 24 months, and looked at hard endpoints, such as heart attacks or death [1].

Objectives: To assess the effect of reducing saturated fat intake and replacing it with carbohydrate, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated fat (MUFA), and/or protein on mortality and cardiovascular morbidity, using all available randomized clinical trials.

Results: The study found no statistically significant effects of reducing saturated fat in regard to heart attacks, strokes, or all-cause deaths.

Although reducing this fat had no effects, replacing some of it with polyunsaturated fat led to a 27% lower risk of cardiovascular events (but not death, heart attacks, or strokes).

Study 2

This systematic, observational review of studies looked at the association of saturated fat and heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and death from cardiovascular disease.

The data included 73 studies, with 90,500–339,000 participants for each endpoint.

Objective: To systematically review associations between intake of saturated fat and trans unsaturated fat and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and associated mortality, coronary heart disease, and associated mortality, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Results: Saturated fats are not associated with all-cause mortality, CVD, CHD, ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes. Trans fats are associated with all-cause mortality, total CHD, and CHD mortality.

People who consumed more of this fat weren’t more likely to experience heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, or death from any cause, compared with those who ate less saturated fat [2].

Study 3

This systematic review assessed the effects of the amount and type of dietary fat on body weight and the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Participants included both people who were healthy and those with risk factors. This review included 607 studies, including randomized controlled trials, prospective cohort studies, and nested case-control studies [3].

Objective: To assess the effect and grade of the evidence of the amount and type of dietary fat as well as biomarkers of the quality of dietary fat on risk factors, body weight, and risk of non-communicable diseases, that is, T2DM, CVD (including CHD and stroke), and cancer.

Results: Consuming this kind of fat wasn’t linked to an increased risk of heart disease or an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that partially replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol concentrations.

It also may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in men.

However, substituting refined carbs for saturated fat may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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