The popular belief that saturated fats clog up arteries is likely wrong. That’s the message from three cardiologists in a just published editorial, summarizing the evidence:
Instead of worrying about saturated fats or cholesterol, the cardiologists advise people to eat “real food” (like a higher-fat Mediterranean diet), stop smoking and consider stress reduction and regular physical activity. See the image above.
Here’s the main message in the editorial by Dr. Aseem Malhotra and colleagues:
It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids and reducing dietary saturated fat.
Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food.
The media is all over the message this morning. It gets criticism from some experts, and support from many others:
- CNN: Does saturated fats clog your arteries? Controversial paper says ‘no’
- SBS: ‘Saturated fat not cause of heart disease’
- The Telegraph: Specialists under fire for dismissing saturated fat link to heart disease
- The Sun: Medics embroiled in health row after blasting ‘plainly wrong’ NHS claims that butter, cheese and red meat clog arteries
- The Guardian: Q&A: saturated fat, your health and what the experts say
- Yahoo News: Pass the butter: Cutting saturated fat does not reduce heart disease risk, cardiologists say
- CBC: Pass the butter: Cutting saturated fat does not reduce heart disease risk, cardiologists say
If you ask me the experts are likely to be mostly right. It’s probably time to stop obsessing about saturated fats and LDL cholesterol, as the link to heart disease appears to be almost nonexistent and relatively weak, respectively. If eating low-fat foods make you hungry and cause you to increase intake of sugar and refined carbs (as may often happens) it could even be harmful.
Many experts are still stuck in an old failed paradigm, still fearing natural fats. It’s time to let it go. Fat is your friend.