Confusion over saturated fats

By Judy Buttriss

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Judy Buttriss, director general, British Nutrition Foundation
Judy Buttriss, director general, British Nutrition Foundation
The reporting of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) decision to join the rest of the world in recognising that dietary cholesterol does not have a big impact on blood cholesterol did nothing to stem the confusion about sat fats and heart health.

In fact, the USDA’s review rated the relationship between increased sat fat intake and increased coronary heart disease (CHD) risk as high.


Support for current UK guidance to replace saturated with unsaturated fat is also provided by a new dietary intervention study from Reading University, the largest randomised controlled trial to compare the impact of replacing sat fat by either monounsaturated (MUFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat.

Importantly the study focused on real life dietary substitutions, an important feature overlooked in some of the recent high-profile analyses that have questioned the long-standing advice on sat fat reduction.


The Reading study shows that replacing around 9.5% of energy from sat fat by MUFA or omega-6 PUFA reduces ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 1114%, equivalent to a 1720% decrease in heart disease risk.

There was also a meaningful beneficial effect on blood pressure when MUFA replaced saturated fat.

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