Is saturated fat bad for your heart?

A new study suggests that saturated fat intake is not associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, or premature death in Australian women. 

In the latest DD news video, Diet Doctor Medical Director Dr. Bret Scher examines the study’s methods and findings and concludes that it provides more evidence that saturated fat is not associated with a higher risk to heart health.

“When will we have enough evidence to allow us to stop focusing on “saturated fat” and instead focus on food and whole dietary patterns?” asks Dr. Scher “There is no credible evidence that foods containing saturated fat are harmful when eaten as part of a healthy, low-carb diet that contributes to healthy weight loss. It’s time to change the narrative.”

BMJ Heart: Association of carbohydrate and saturated fat intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in Australian women

The researchers followed 9,899 Australian women, average age 52, over 15 years and noted how much carbohydrate and saturated fat they ate.

The study was a prospective nutritional epidemiology study, which is the lowest quality of evidence because these types of studies are prone to healthy-user bias, use unreliable food questionnaires, and are not randomized. These design flaws tend to distort the impact of foods like saturated fat, making them look worse than they really are.  

But even with that risk of distortion, in this study, saturated fat was not associated with cardiovascular disease or mortality and instead correlated with lower rates of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Dr. Scher notes that this study did indeed have a healthy user bias: “The women who ate more saturated fat were more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise. They were less educated, they were lower socioeconomic class, they ate more calories in total. These things are frequently associated with a worse outcome in and of themselves. But despite that, there was no worse outcome for the women who ate the most saturated fat compared to the lowest saturated fat. So that’s pretty impressive.”

If you want more information about this important topic, check out our in-depth, evidence-based guide on healthy fats in a keto or low-carb diet.

Diet Doctor: All you need to know about healthy fats on a keto or low-carb diet

Each week, Dr. Scher takes a scientific study in the fields of nutrition, exercise, health, or disease and carefully analyses the researchers’ methods and findings. In doing so, he helps you better understand how to judge the quality of various research papers and make informed decisions about your own health and wellness. 

You can find more of Dr. Scher’s news videos on the Diet Doctor Youtube Channel. Subscribe to the feed so that you don’t miss any of his videos.

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