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Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 154–162 | Cite as

Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review of Current Evidence

  • Majella O’Keeffe
  • Marie-Pierre St-Onge
Obesity and Diet (G Rao, Section Editor)

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world. Saturated fatty acids (SFA) have long been implicated in the development of CVD. The evidence to support this hypothesis came from studies which examined the effects of SFA intake on total cholesterol (TC). However, relying on TC as the sole primary outcome may not be sufficient and understanding the effect of SFA on the concentrations of other lipid fractions is necessary. SFA are known to increase low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and consequently dietary guidelines recommend reducing SFA intakes in order to decrease LDL-C and CVD risk. However, recent evidence suggests that not all SFAs possess the same atherogenic properties but this development has not yet been reflected in dietary recommendations. This review summarizes recent evidence on the relationship between SFA intake and CVD risk. It also explores current dietary guidelines specific to SFA intake and outlines why future guidelines may need to be food- rather than nutrient-specific. Overall, the evidence presented in this review suggests that not all SFA are created equal and the food sources of SFA, as well as individual characteristics of the SFA, such as chain length, should be considered in dietary recommendations.

Keywords

Cardiovascular disease Saturated fat Dairy Meat Dietary guidelines 

Abbreviations

AHA

American Heart Association

BOLD

Beef Optimal in Lean Diet

CHD

Coronary heart disease

CRP

C-reactive protein

CVD

Cardiovascular disease

DASH

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

EFSA

European Food Safety Authority

FFQ

Food frequency questionnaire

HAD

Healthy American Diet

HDL-C

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol

IL-1β

Interleukin-1beta

IL-6

Interleukin-6

IL-8

Interleukin-8

IFN-γ

Interferon gamma

IOM

Institute of Medicine

LDL-C

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

MUFA

Mono-unsaturated fatty acid

SFA

Saturated fatty acids

TC

Total cholesterol

TG

Triglycerides

TNF-α

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

USDHHS

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Notes

Disclosure

No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kings College London, School of Medicine, Diabetes and Nutritional Science DivisionLondonUK
  2. 2.New York Obesity Nutrition Research Centre, St. Luke’s/Roosevelt HospitalNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.New York Nutrition Obesity Research CentreNew YorkUSA

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