New research supports dietary advice on saturated fat

24 November 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

Man and woman eating healthy food Consuming major saturated fatty acids increases people’s risk of coronary heart disease, according to new research from Harvard University, which supports current dietary guidelines. 

The research, published in the BMJ, recommends that saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, whole grain carbohydrates or plant proteins as a way of people lowering their risk of heart disease

The researchers found that replacing 1 per cent of daily energy intake from major saturated fatty acids with equivalent energy from polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, whole grain carbohydrates, or plant proteins, could reduce coronary heart disease risk by 6-8 per cent.

The findings are based on an analysis of two US cohort studies that involved 73,147 women in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1984-2012, and 42,635 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1986-2010.

‘Supports current guidance’ 

Responding to the study, our Heart Health Dietitian Tracy Parker said: “Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat, meaning this study is a stark reminder of the damage to people’s heart health this can cause.” 

“This large study reinforces current dietary advice of replacing some saturated fats with alternatives such as unsaturated fats or whole grain carbohydrates. Easy, small changes such as swapping coconut oil for rapeseed or olive oil when cooking, or changing butter for an oil based spread will all help to improve our heart health. 

“This is also a good reminder to not focus solely on the type of fat we eat, but to look at our diet as a whole when trying to reduce our risk of heart disease and improve our health.”

Find out more

Our dietary advice is based on the evidence from many years of research which shows that a balanced diet can help lower the risk of heart and circulatory disease. Find out more about a heart healthy diet by signing up to Heart Matters. 

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