Expert panel agrees – limits to saturated fat are not evidence-based

Assortment of dairy products on rustic wooden table. Copy space

Current limits on saturated fats are no longer justified according to a recent workshop entitled “Saturated Fats: A Food or Nutrient Approach.” We could argue whether the limits were ever justified, but certainly now it appears the evidence shows they are not.

The workshop was organized by Drs. Arne Astrup and Ronald Krauss and was sponsored by The Nutrition Coalition. At the conclusion of the meeting the 11 experts in attendance summarized their findings.

The main points are that “meta-analyses of both adequately controlled randomized trials of saturated fatty acid reduction and observational studies have found no significant evidence for effects of dietary saturated fat intake on cardiovascular disease or total mortality.” We have covered many of these studies in our evidence-based guide on saturated fat, in prior Diet Doctor news posts, and in our interviews with expert clinicians.

But the panel didn’t stop there. It also emphasized that basing a recommendation on LDL cholesterol levels alone is shortsighted when clinical outcome data doesn’t support limiting saturated fats. This is especially true when we know low-carb, high-saturated-fat diets can improve the size and density of LDL particles and reduce other cardiovascular risk factors such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The panel concluded:

There is no evidence that current population-wide arbitrary upper limits on commonly consumed saturated fats in the U.S. will prevent cardiovascular disease or reduce mortality… Consuming a variety of natural foods without restricting saturated fatty acid intake would also be beneficial in helping to ensure a nutritionally adequate diet and maintain health.

The experts have spoken once again. It is time for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to listen to the science and align the guidelines with the current evidence.

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC


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Fat and cholesterol