was pleased that my blood tests had improved.
down," he reassured me.
Trying to avoid excess saturated fat in my diet paid off.
handed me a copy — hot off the press — of a report in the
Annals of Internal Medicine that appears to question that
choice. A review of the association between different types of
fats and coronary (heart) disease concluded: "Current
evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines
that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids
and low consumption of saturated fats."
This study found no clear proof that cutting back on my
saturated fat intake and increasing my intake of
polyunsaturated fats will lower my risk for heart disease.
reaction was, Yippee. I think I’ll go buy that yummy-tasting
high saturated fat yogurt I usually avoid.
second reaction was, Maybe I need to get more information.
current report is actually a review of several studies, most
of which are "observational" — considered a poor
source of information on the effects of dietary changes.
Moreover, observational studies give us clues to what we need
to study further.
its credit, this study also looked at real experiments on real
people in randomized controlled trials.
the problem? The way I understand it, we have ample evidence
that replacing saturated fats in the diet with those that are
more unsaturated reduces the "bad" LDL cholesterol
in our blood. And lowering LDL lowers our risk factor for
researchers found no positive proof, however, that just eating
less saturated fat (or eating more polyunsaturated fat) will
cut our risk for heart disease.
enough to fuel the internet with comments like, "Don’t
read anything written by food experts."
I reply, I’d much rather trust a trained pilot to guide me
to my destination than the guy in the back of the plane
complaining about the turbulence.
what experts generally agree on:
fats — more than saturated fat — are detrimental to heart
health. That’s why the FDA recommends we phase trans fats
out of our food supply.
are several types of saturated fat — some more detrimental
than others — which complicates studies of this type even
patterns that include a wide variety of plant-based foods —
from vegetables to fruit to whole grains to beans to nuts —
have shown over and over again to protect against heart
disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. This "whole diet
approach" is naturally lower in saturated fat and shows
benefits "not from one specific element, but from the sum
of its parts," according to Jeremy Pearson, associate
medical director of the British Medical Journal who helped
fund this research.
study does not tell us that saturated fat is good for
us," says Pearson. "It only tells us that saturated
fat may not be as damaging as we thought."
I know the benefits when I improve the overall quality of my
diet. And even if there is no absolute proof that the
saturated fat in that yummy-tasting yogurt will give me heart
disease, I need those extra fat calories like I need another
controversial diet study.