Saturated Fat in Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity: Friend or Foe?



As health professionals and policy makers debate what are the most effective means to combat the global obesity epidemic, one important question one must ask is whether we have been following the wrong dietary advice over the past three decades. This chapter presents a summary of evidence arguing the relationship between saturated fat consumption, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.


Saturated fat Cardiovascular disease Obesity Cholesterol LDL Sugar Calorie is not a calorie 


  1. 1.
    Keys A. Coronary heart disease in seven countries. Circulation. 1970;41(Supp):1–211.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carter JP. Eating in America; Dietary Goals for the United States. Report of the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, U.S. Senate. Cambridge: MIT Press; 1977.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Diet and cardiovascular disease. Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Report of the Panel on Diet in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease. Rep Health Soc Subj (Lond). 1984;28:1–32.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:535–46.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB, Herrington DM. Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:1175–84.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    de Marcia C, Oliveira Otto MC, Mozaffarian D, Kromhout D, Bertoni AG, Sibley CT, et al. Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(2):397–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta analysis. Circulation. 2010;121:2271–83.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dreon DM, Fernstrom HA, Campos H, Blanche P, Williams PT, Krauss RM. Change in dietary saturated fat intake is correlated with change in mass of large low-density-lipoprotein particles in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;67:828–36.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mensink RP, Katan MB. Effect of dietary fatty acids on serum lipids and lipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 27 trials. Arterioscler Thromb. 1992;12:911–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Berneis KK, Krauss RM. Metabolic origins and clinical significance of LDL heterogeneity. J Lipid Res. 2002;43:1363–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wallace S, Mozaffarian D. Trans-fatty acids and non lipid risk factors. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2009;11:423.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    A UK National Statistics Publication. Family food. London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; 2010.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Alonso A, Nettleton JA, Ix JH, de Boer IH, Folsom AR, Bidulescu A, et al. Dietary phosphorus, blood pressure and incidence of hypertension in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study and the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Hypertension. 2010;55:776–84.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sacks FM, Willett WC, Smith A, Brown LE, Rosner B, Moore TJ. Effect on blood pressure of potassuim, calcium, and magnesium in women with low habitual intake. Hypertension. 1998;31:131–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Geleiijnse JM, Kok FJ, Grobee DE. Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: a metaregression analysis of randomised trials. J Hum Hypertens. 2003;17:471–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mozaffarian D, Cao H, King IB, Lemaitre RN, Song X, Siscovick DS, et al. Trans. – Palmitoleic acid, metabolic risk factors, and new-onset diabetes in U.S adults: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:790–9.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Atkins RC. Dr. Atkins’ new diet revolution. New York: Avon Books; 2002.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Krauss RM, Blanche PJ, Rawlings RS, Fernstrom HS, Williams PT. Separate effects of reduced carbohydrate intake and weight loss on atherogenic dyslipidemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83:1025–31; quiz 1205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lustig RH, Schmidt L, Brindis C. The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012;482:27–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Feinman R, Fine E. A calorie is a calorie violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutr J. 2004;3:9.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kekwick A, Pawan GL. Calorie intake in relation to body-weight changes in the obese. Lancet. 1956;271(6935):155–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ebbeling CB, Swain JF, Feldman HA, Wong WW, Hachey DL, Garcia-Lago E, et al. Effects of dietary composition on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance. JAMA. 2012;307(24):2627–34.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CardiologyRoyal Free University HospitalLondonUK

Personalised recommendations