Cardiovascular health

New evidence challenges the link between fatty acids and heart disease


A new study raises questions about current guidelines which generally restrict the consumption of saturated fats and encourage consumption of polyunsaturated fats as means to prevent heart disease.

An international research collaboration led by the University of Cambridge analysed data from 76 unique studies of over 600,000 participants from 18 nations. The investigators found that total saturated fatty acid, whether measured in the diet or in the bloodstream as a biomarker, was not associated with coronary disease risk in the observational studies.

Similarly, when analysing the studies that involved assessments of the consumption of total monounsaturated fatty acids, long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, there were no significant associations between consumption and cardiovascular risk. With regard to saturated fatty acid, the researchers also found weak positive associations between circulating palmitic and stearic acids (found largely in palm oil and animal fats, respectively) and cardiovascular disease, whereas circulating margaric acid (a dairy fat) significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, large scale clinical studies are needed, as these researchers recommend, before making a conclusive judgement.

 Source: Rajiv Chowdhury et al. Ann Intern Med. 2014; 160(6):398-406-406. doi:10.7326/M13-1788


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