FAT CONTROVERSIES

SATURATED FAT: WHERE IS THE CONTROVERY?

Saturated Fat: Not So Bad or Just Bad Science?
By Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, LD 
Today's Dietitian, November 2014, Vol. 16 No. 11 P. 32

Since the Harvard studies of the 1950s, saturated fat was identified as the bad boy of heart disease. This lead the food industry to manufacture margarines and shortening as replacements for butter and lard. Recently, there has been some rumors that saturated fats are good after all and that food scientist and nutritionists had it all wrong.  Marsha McCulloch brings some clarity to this paradox. She writes: " No doubt clients, patients, friends, and relatives have asked dietitians questions about whether coconut oil is a health food or if butter is better for you than once thought. The answers to such questions used to seem pretty clear cut. Such foods are high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol and therefore should be strictly limited in our diets to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. Lately, however, news headlines spinning recent research findings about dietary fat are causing even some health professionals to second-guess longstanding nutrition recommendations. "Butter is back," declared an editorial written in March by well-known food journalist Mark Bittman in The New York Times.1 Bittman's commentary was loosely based on findings of a March 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine, led by Rajiv Chowdhury, MD, PhD, of the University of Cambridge, and a team of international researchers. Their review concluded that there wasn't "clearly supportive evidence for current cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of saturated fats."

Butter in paper and two bottles of different types of oils, © multiart/ Shutterstock.com

SATURATED FAT: A LINK TO BREAST CANCER

The link between fat and cancer has been a hot topic since the 1990s. Sieri and colleagues  conclude from their 2013 research:"High saturated fat intake particularly increases risk of receptor-positive disease, suggesting saturated fat involvement in the etiology of this Breast Cancer subtype." 
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