Butter, cows milk and eggs, which are rich in saturated fat, have long been linked to increased risk of heart disease. However, a recent study suggests that saturated fats actually may not be associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, or all cause mortality. The study did find however that trans fats do contribute to increased risk of coronary heart disease death, coronary heart disease, and all cause mortality.
Confused about the difference between saturated and trans fats? Saturated fats are those found in nature, usually in animal products. Some examples include butter, cows milk, meat, salmon, egg yolks, and certain plant products including chocolate and palm oils. Trans unsaturated fats are industrially produced fats that come from plant oils in a process called hydrogenation, and are commonly used in margarine, snack foods, and packaged baked goods.
For their review, the researchers examined the data from 50 observational studies that assessed the association between saturated and/or trans fats and health outcomes. They found no association between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, type-2 diabetes, or all cause mortality.
They did, however, find a 28% increased risk of coronary heart disease death, a 21% higher risk of coronary heart disease, and a 34% increased risk in all cause mortality associated with trans fat consumption.
The researchers were unable to find any association between trans fats and type-2 diabetes or ischemic stroke, which they credited to inconsistencies in the studies.
Researchers from McMaster University conducted the study. It was published on August 11, 2015, in British Journal of Medicine.
While this study suggests that saturated fats may not be as bad for us as previously thought, the researchers cautioned against increasing the recommended limit for saturated fats, as they don’t seem to have any discernible health benefit.
If you want to cut more trans fats from your diet, however, pay attention to the ingredients in your food. It’s also a good idea to cut back on packaged foods and focus on consuming whole foods that can readily be identified, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.