Saturated fat debate – Is it good or bad ?

coconut-treatcoconut-treatEver since the BMJ published this article “Saturated fat is not the major issue”  it has become the most debated topic in health and lifestyle circles with experts taking sides and laying down arguments that counters the other. In his article on BMJ Dr. Aseem Malhotra, interventional cardiology specialist registrar, Croydon University Hospital, London said that

Scientists universally accept that trans fats—found in many fast foods, bakery products, and margarines—increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes.But “saturated fat” is another story. The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades.Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks.

Widespread coverage from the media on this story claiming to debunk the myth of saturated fat has certain health organisations and others who think saturated fats are not healthy worried. They say such stories carry the risk of decreasing the gains that we had in public health during the past 30 years. A group of experts in public health and nutrition representing a number of New Zealand health-related organisations said in a press release that “this could undermine public confidence in lifestyle changes”.

They cited the fact that WHO has commissioned studies and published them on BMJ, that have confirmed the importance of total fat reduction (typically also involving a reduction in saturated fat) as well as the reduction of sugars in helping to reduce overweight and obesity. “There is no evidence that this is achieved in the long term by very low carbohydrate- high fat diets,”

There are also a few who support Dr. Malhotra point of view such as Malcolm E Kendrick, General Practitioner who in a response to the article says “For those who look at the evidence, rather than accept the dogma, the facts are clear. Saturated fat is healthy, trans-fats are not. Margarine should be coloured pink, as it once was, to ensure that it does not enter the food chain.”

With the academia and health organisations divided on this issue on various fronts and concerns of lack of peer-reviewed studies over a longer period of time.There is still no need to make any drastic lifestyle changes for health reasons.Then again, such long term studies are also non existent in any of the diets that the health and lifestyle industry claim to have had good results.

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