Are saturated fats really bad?

Are saturated fats really bad?

Are saturated fats really bad?¬†YES, if you read any of the official guidance from organisations like the NHS, The British Heart Foundation or the American Heart Foundation.¬†AND YET....increasingly not every scientist buys this.I‚Äôll concentrate on one cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra, who published a fascinating ‚Äď and controversial ‚Äď article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, part of the BMJ[1]. In it, Malhotra says that:

  • systematic reviews and meta-analyses concluded that there is no association between saturated fat consumption and all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD), CHD mortality or ischaemic stroke in healthy adults.¬†¬†
  • a diet of unrestricted fat, supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and nuts results in less CHD than diet restricted in fat.¬†
  • replacing saturated fat with seed oils (industrial oils: canola, rapeseed, sunflower and also soy) increases mortality risk despite significant reductions in LDL and total cholesterol.¬†
  • the main risk factors for CHD are insulin resistance (too much weight, too little physical activity) and chronic inflammation (refined carbohydrates, too much omega 6 from seed oils, too little omega 3).¬†
  • chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which result in failure to down-regulate the inflammatory response, causing increases in CHD.

Elsewhere, Malhotra asks how is it that the Masai, who eat only meat and animal products, have literally no CHD[2]?¬†Similarly, consider the study of the Alaskan Inuit[3] that noted that 1956‚Äď1958 these people consumed 50% of their calories from animal fat,¬†yet there was little - if any - clinical manifestation of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the incidence of CHD based on autopsy studies was just 1% in Alaskan Inuit (1956‚Äď1958) versus 18.4% in the general American population (1950‚Äď1955). However, by the mid 1980s the Alaskan Inuit had an identical rate of heart disease mortality. The dietary difference that occurred over those years? A major increase in the intake of carbohydrates and simple sugars.¬†Confusing, right? I guess we each have to make up our own minds‚Ķ.¬†NoamPS - the market reopens in September.¬†¬†

 
[1] Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier PSaturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventionsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2017;51:1111-1112.
[2] Mbalilaki JA, Masesa Z, Str√łmme SB, H√łstmark AT, Sundquist J, W√§ndell P, Rosengren A, Hellenius ML. Daily energy expenditure and cardiovascular risk in Masai, rural and urban Bantu Tanzanians. Br J Sports Med. 2010 Feb;44(2):121-6. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.044966. Epub 2008 Jun 3. PMID: 18523037.
[3] DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe J. Markedly increased intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar is associated with the rise of coronary heart disease and diabetes among the Alaskan InuitOpen Heart 2017;4:e000673. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000673 
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