One more comment about the fatty acid study I posted about a few days ago, the one that found no difference in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk between those who ate the most vs. those who ate the least saturated fat:
Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Annals of Internal Medicine, 18 March 2014
One way you can arrive at all your groups showing similar risk, which this study found, is when there isn’t much difference in consumption among your comparison groups. Or when most of your participants are consuming saturated fat above a threshold where risk for CVD increases.
About this meta-analysis, Jeff Novick writes:
“One major problem with this study is they did not look at any studies where the saturated fat intake was less than 7%, which is the level recommended by the [American Heart Association]. … Most of the diets had saturated fat intakes in the range of 10-15% (or more).”
7% is a lot of saturated fat. If someone was eating 2000 calories a day, 7% is about 16 grams of saturated fat. For relativity’s sake, there are 2 grams of saturated fat in a 3 ounce serving of beef chuck. One chicken thigh, just 2 ounces, has 3 grams of saturated fat.
Does reducing saturated fat below 7%, what you would find in a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, reduce CVD risk? This study couldn’t say.
Here’s a study that found replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduced risk for heart attack. (Saturated fat comes primarily from animals – meat and dairy. Polyunsaturated fat comes primarily from plants.)
“Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that consuming PUFA in place of SFA reduces CHD events in RCTs.”*
Here’s the press release: Replacing Those Saturated Fats, Harvard, March 2010
“But a new study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) provides the first conclusive evidence from randomized clinical trials that people who replace saturated fat in their diet with polyunsaturated fat reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by 19 percent, compared with control groups of people who do not.”
For every 5 percent increase (measured as total energy) in polyunsaturated fat consumption, coronary heart disease risk was reduced by 10 percent.
Remember this? “Give that chicken fat back to the chicken!”
* PUFA: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
SFA: Saturated Fatty Acids
CHD: Coronary Heart Disease
RCT: Randomized Controlled Trials