During the last ten years or so, many reviews of all available science have come to the conclusion that there’s no connection between saturated fat and heart disease.23 This fact has also been recognized in many high-quality newspapers.4 It’s simply been a mistake.
Fortunately, during the last several years more and more experts and organizations have realized that natural saturated fats – despite their reputation – appear to be neutral from a health perspective.5
It’s natural to eat saturated fats, as they are found in natural foods that we have eaten throughout evolution.6 This includes human breast milk, and the multiple foods that sustained our ancestors as adults.7
Don’t fear fat. Updated experts don’t.
A user guide to saturated fat
Here are five meta-analyses showing no connection between saturated fats and heart disease:
- Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis [strong evidence]
- Nutrition Journal 2017: The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials [strong evidence]
- Annals of Internal Medicine 2014: Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis [moderate evidence]
- PLOS ONE 2016: Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality [very weak evidence]
- Annals of Internal Medicine 2009: Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: Summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomized controlled trials [moderate evidence]
Beyond studies on saturated fats, there’s no good support for natural foods containing plenty of saturated fats being a concern. For example, butter, meat, coconut oil, etc. In studies, these foods have not been proven to increase heart disease risk:
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017: Total red meat intake of ≥0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systemically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials [strong evidence]
Here are a few examples.
For example, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has publicly stated that saturated fat should no longer be considered a nutrient of concern, given the lack of evidence connecting it to heart disease. ↩
Humans and our ancestors have been eating natural saturated fats for millions of years:
About 50% of all the fat in breast milk is saturated fat.