Research out of Canada published this week in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has found that saturated fats, long-thought to a danger if too prevalent in a diet, does no harm. Regular consumption of trans fats, however, increases the risk of death by any cause significantly.
The researchers examined the results of 50 prior studies that looked at consuming saturated fats and trans fats and what effect they had on the risk of early death. They found that overall trans fats raise the risk of having some types of stroke, going into sudden cardiac arrest, developing type 2 diabetes and of getting many forms of cancer and other illnesses, by 34 percent.
Trans fats are found in industry-produced processed foods like margarine and most snack foods (these foods are made with hydrogenated oils). A reduction in the consumption of trans fats, they found, reduces the chances of mortality.
As for saturated fats, found in butter and meat, for example, the research found they do not raise the risk of early death by any cause. The fact that the results pointed to a risk in consuming trans fats was not a surprise; however, finding that saturated fats do not increase mortality in any category was surprising.
“For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease,” lead researcher Russell de Souza from McMaster University told media. “But the case for saturated fat is less clear.
“That said, we aren’t advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines,” he added. “As we don’t see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health.”
Stay away from cheese? From eggs? From meat? That may become less strident a warning once the results of the research become more widely known and considered. Stay away from snack foods? That warning, already rather strident, may take on an even more urgent tone.