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No Evidence Found Linking Saturated Fat Consumption to Heart Disease

Epidemiologists have just questioned the validity of standard dietary advice to avoid saturated fat for the sake of heart health. Over the last several decades, nutrition experts, dietitians and cardiologists have been warning Americans to cut back on sat fat found in meat, butter, cheese, whole milk and coconut. The theory was that saturated fat would raise cholesterol and clog arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes.

A large new meta-analysis of 72 studies including more than 600,000 participants found that there was no association between saturated fat consumption and the risk of a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or heart disease. A blood fat marker for dairy fat consumption was inversely linked to a possible risk of heart disease, suggesting that fats from milk and dairy products might be protective rather than harmful. Conversely, trans fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils that were once promoted as heart healthy are actually the most clearly associated with coronary disease risk, and the only significant association found. This meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is making many nutrition experts uncomfortable because it challenges decades of dietary advice.

[Annals of Internal Medicine, March 18, 2014]

This is not the first we have heard of a change in position on saturated fat based on scientific evidence. An interventional cardiologist wrote in the BMJ in October, 2013, that “Saturated fat is not the major issue.”

There are a few dietary guidelines that don’t seem to have changed in years. One is what your grandmother told you: Eat your vegetables! This is the foundation for the evidence-backed DASH diet that lowers blood pressure and the Mediterranean diet that can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and diabetes. To learn more about how to follow such diets, you may be interested in our book,  The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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