Cutting back on saturated fats lowers heart disease risk, but only if the calories are replaced with the right kinds of foods, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study (121,701 women) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (51,529 men), using only information from participants that were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at the start of the study. Diet, lifestyle, medical history, and newly diagnosed diseases were assessed at baseline and every two to four years for up to 30 years. Results showed that people who removed even 5% of energy intake from saturated fatty foods with an equivalent intake from either polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, or carbohydrates from whole grains showed a 25%, 15%, and 9% lower risk for heart disease, respectively. In contrast, replacing the same calories from saturated fatty foods with refined grains or sugars showed no reduction in heart disease risk.
The heart ages differently depending on whether you are a woman or a man, suggesting that treatment should be gender-specific, state researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
In Perspective: How do you put this research into daily practice? Cook with healthy fats, such as olive oil instead of butter or hard margarine. Skip potato chips and cookies and instead snack on nuts or olives. Make sandwiches with 100% whole grain bread, avocados, and chicken breast instead of cheese and processed meats.
Li Y, Hruby A, Bernstein A, et al: Saturated fats and sources of carbohydrates in relation to risk of coronary heart disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2015; 66 (14):1538.
Eng J, McClelland R, Gomes A, et al: Adverse left ventricular remodeling and age assessed with cardiac MR imaging. Radiology 2015; October 20th.