Cardiovascular diseases – including coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease and other diseases – claim an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. The main risk factors for heart disease are unhealthy diet, physical activity, and harmful alcohol consumption. A new study examining the link between saturated fat and heart disease has found which food source could be the most harmful.
Study author Rebecca Kelly of the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford said, “The relationship between saturated fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease in observational studies was previously unclear.
“Our results are important because they provide one possible explanation – that the relationship can vary depending on the food source.
“We found that saturated fat from meat may be associated with a higher risk than other food sources – in part because those who consumed large amounts of meat also had a higher body mass index than those who did not.”
For the study, the researchers used data from 114,285 people who had no prior cardiovascular disease at the start of the analysis.
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The results showed no clear association between total saturated fat results and cardiovascular disease. However, researchers observed that consuming five percent more total energy from saturated meats was linked to a 19 percent and 21 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease, respectively.
However, the researchers indicated that these associations did not remain significant after taking the BMI into account.
Doctor Kelly added, “Our results suggest that differences in BMI may be partly responsible for the association between cardiovascular disease and saturated fats from meat.
“It is not possible to determine whether this is due to a specific influence of saturated fat from meat on the BMI or because those with a higher BMI consume more meat.
“Also, it is difficult to fully unravel whether some of the effect of saturated fat on cardiovascular disease in this cohort could be caused by higher LDL cholesterol, as cholesterol lowering drug use is high among adults in the UK. ”
The researchers concluded: “We recommend following the recommendations of the nutritional guideline to consume less than 10 percent of your daily energy from saturated fat.
“Our result underscores the importance of examining the various dietary sources of saturated fat when examining cardiovascular disease risk.
“Further research is needed to ensure that these observations were not influenced by dietary or non-dietary factors that were not measured in this study.”
According to the NHS, saturated fats are mainly found in:
- Fat pieces of meat
- ice cream
- coconut Milk.
United Kingdom Guidelines recommend that the average man between the ages of 19 and 65 should not consume more than 30 grams of saturated fat, while women between the ages of 19 and 64 should not consume more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
The NHS says, “It is also recommended that people reduce their total fat intake and replace saturated fat with some unsaturated fats, including omega-3s.”