To Eat Fat or Not to Eat Fat? That is the Question

Avatar photo Staff February 7, 2018
saturated fats

All of us have been raised knowing that we should be eating healthy to live longer and to avoid heart disease. As an internal medicine specialist, I assess all my patients’ risk factors to developing cardiovascular disease. A component of primary prevention is the discussion of diet. How many of us have heard, “avoid fats,” “don’t eat saturated fats,” or “eat more polyunsaturated fats”?

The medical profession relies on scientific studies to base its patient care recommendations. It is fascinating and yet upsetting to hear what we have held as truth may not necessarily be such.

Saturated fats are found in foods as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry, lard, cream and cheese. Polyunsaturated fats are those found in sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed, walnut, fish and canola oil. A recent commentary in Medscape entitled, “Saturated Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: American Heart Association Convicts, We Say Acquit,” was written July 12, 2017 and is the basis for this brief article.

Since the 1970s, Americans have lowered their intake of saturated fats by 27 percent in place of more polyunsaturated fats. The dietary intake of these healthier fats rose by 90 percent. We are shocked to now know that, although our cholesterol numbers have therefore improved, cardiovascular disease remains a leading cause of death in our country. Over 800,000 men and women die of cardiovascular disease annually in the United States. Old research data has been reviewed and now shows NO association between saturated fats and heart disease. There are factors other than cholesterol numbers that likely contribute to cardiovascular disease.

At the end of the day, our mothers and grandmothers have been right — eat in moderation and you will be fine.