Saturated Fat And Heart Disease Aren't Linked, Says New Research, But It's Not All Good News For Bacon

Bring on the breakfast bacon! A new study indicates that saturated fats may not be as bad for you as previously thought: Researchers from Cambridge University have published data analysis suggesting there's no link between saturated fats and increased rates of heart disease. But it's not all good news: "healthy," non-saturated fats don't actually prevent cardiovascular problems, the study also found. This flips on its head the popular notion that diets limited in saturated fats can prevent specific health risks.

Saturated fats are found in foods like cheeses; fatty cuts of meat; cream; and butter. For years, experts have recommended that people substitute saturated fats with unsaturated fats, like those found in seeds, nuts and fish. But the new research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found no correlation of decreased heart disease in participants who ate higher amounts of unsaturated fat either.

Researchers based their findings on data from 72 previously published studies — yup, 72 — of more than 600,000 people from 18 countries. The results raise questions over international dietary guidelines. In America, it's recommended that people consume less than 10 percent of daily calories as saturated fat, according to the CDC, while experts in the United Kingdom suggest an intake of 30 grams of saturated fat a day for men and 20 grams for women.

Lead researcher Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury noted the study's findings don't mean you can eat as much fat as you like, just that there isn't enough evidence of the link to cardiovascular disease. More than 17 million people worldwide died from related health issues in 2008, so establishing clear-cut recommendations on saturated fats could have significant impact.

For now, Chowdury says the best way to protect your heart is to stop smoking, exercise regularly, and focus on an healthy diet with a focus on how much sugar, salt, fruit and vegetables you're eating.

Humph. Anyone else still picturing stacks of bacon and cheese?

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