Is ‘low intake of saturated fat reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease’, a myth?

Guidelines released by many medical organizations, including the World Health Organization, have advocated for reduction in the intake of saturated fat to promote health and reduce the risk from cardiovascular diseases. However, a small number of contemporary reviews have challenged these conclusions because the most recent meta-analyses of randomized trials and observational studies found no beneficial effects of reducing dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, and instead found protective effects against stroke.

Although SFAs increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, in most individuals, this is not due to increasing levels of small, dense LDL particles, but rather larger LDL particles, which are much less strongly related to CVD risk.

What you may not know about LDL-cholesterol is that not all LDLs are the same. While some LDLs in our blood are relatively small in size and rather dense (heavy), other LDLs are larger and less dense (fluffy).

Doctors and other health professionals often refer to LDL particle size when discussing this issue. Over the past two decades, it has become apparent that LDL particle size plays a very important role in determining the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). People with LDLs that are primarily small and dense face a much greater risk of CHD than people with LDLs that are larger and less dense. In other words, two people with the same elevated LDL value might actually be at very different levels of risk.

It is also apparent that the health effects of foods cannot be predicted by their content in any nutrient group without considering the overall macronutrient distribution.

Per 100-gram serving of raw coconut meat supplies a high amount of total fat (33 grams) – especially saturated fat (89% of total fat); and coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%).

Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.

(Source of Information: jacc.org, Wikipedia, health.harvard.edu & cooperinstitute.org)

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