A new study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who ate more saturated fats from red meat and butter were more likely to develop heart disease and the opposite was true for those who ate more saturated fats from cheese, yoghurt and fish, which were actually linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
There is still controversy about total dietary fatty acids, their classes (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Specially, the relevance of the food sources of these fats and their association with cardiovascular disease.
The researchers conducted a study involving 10,529 individuals with incident coronary heart disease and a random subcohort of 16,730 adults selected from a cohort of 3858,747 participants in 9 countries in the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition).
What are the clinical implications?
According to the researchers and the JAHA the differential associations with CHD of saturated fatty acids (SFA) from different food sources provide support for the adoption of a food-based translation of recommendations for saturated fat intake in dietary guidelines.
The association of dietary fatty acids with coronary heart disease (CHD) is complex but important because of its enormous public health impact, because diet is a potentially modifiable factor.
The study found associations of SFA with CHD in opposite directions depending on the food source. These findings should be further investigated, but support public health recommendations to consider the food source alongside the macronutrients that they contain.
Marinka Steur, et al. Dietary Fatty Acids, Macronutrient Substitutions, Food Sources and Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease: Findings From the EPIC‐CVD Case‐Cohort Study Across Nine European Countries. J Am Heart Assoc. Nov 2021. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.019814.