NPR Radio reports:
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines urge us to limit consumption because of concerns that saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease. But after decades of research, a growing number of experts are questioning this link.
In fact, the authors of a new meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine conclude that there's insufficient evidence to support the long-standing recommendation to consume saturated fat in very low amounts.
So, let's walk through this shift in thinking: The concern over fat gathered steam in the 1960s when studies showed that saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol — the bad cholesterol — the artery-clogging stuff. The assumption was that this increased the risk of heart disease.
But after all this time, it just hasn't panned out, at least not convincingly. When researchers have tracked people's saturated fat intake over time and then followed up to see whether higher intake increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, they haven't found a clear, consistent link.
In fact, the new study finds "null associations" (to quote the authors) between total saturated fat intake and coronary risk. And a prior analysis that included more than 300,000 participants came to a similar conclusion.