Saturated Fat: Friend or Foe?
Reducing consumption of dietary saturated fat (SFA) has been part of dietary recommendations for many years as a means to prevent cardiovascular outcomes. Yet, recent research has challenged this very basic concept in preventive nutrition. Data have suggested that LDL-C raising effect of dietary SFA may be influenced by its dietary source, cheese having less hypercholesterolemic effects than butter. Observational cohort studies have generally failed to find significant associations between intake of SFA and risk of coronary heart disease. In large intervention studies, substituting vegetable oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids for SFA have not yielded consistent results in terms of cardiovascular benefits. In the end, there is no absolute consensus on the importance of SFA in a heart-healthy diet. As emphasized in this chapter, more research is required to put this debate at rest. In the mean time, focusing on whole foods and dietary patterns, without overly emphasizing the importance of SFA in the diet, seems entirely reasonable and appropriate.
KeywordsSaturated fat Ccoronary heart disease Dietary guidelines Polyunsaturated fat
The author is Chair of Nutrition at Laval University. This Chair is supported by unrestricted endowments from Royal Bank of Canada, Pfizer, and Provigo/Loblaws. He has received funding in the last 5 years for his research from the CIHR, NSERC, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), Dairy Research Institute (DRI), Atrium Innovations, the Danone Institute, and Merck Frosst. He has received speaker honoraria over the last 5 years from DFC and DRI. He is Chair of the Expert Scientific Advisory Panel of DFC and was a member of the ad hoc committee on saturated fat of Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
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