Should We Fear Saturated Fats? Some Thoughts on the "Research"

Lamb rump, yolks, beef suet, chicken skin, bacon… Delectable animal foods, all nourishing, and all significant sources of saturated fat. The main premise behind the strong suggestion to “limit one’s intake of meat” is to reduce one’s consumption of saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “presidential advisory”, we’ll find great cardiovascular benefits if we replace saturated fat in our diet with polyunsaturated fats [1]. In other words, replace nourishing animal foods with a plethora of nuts, seeds… even seed oils, if we choose. The suggestion to reduce or nearly eliminate saturated fats from our diet is unnatural, yes, and worse, quite shady, for 2 reasons: 1. Contradictory evidence was dismissed. There are two large meta-analyses [2-3] that show no significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular health. 2. The AHA cherry picked 4 “core’ studies [4-7]. 2 of which showed no statistical difference between saturated and unsaturated [4-5]. The 2 that did show statistical differences have been consistently criticized. In [6], the experimental population changed over time 🤯 In [7], the relative risk of saturated vs unsaturated was 1.19, which corresponds to odds of 54:46. Not very significant. There’s no surprise that the presidential advisory report was created by members of the AHA, reviewed by an AHA committee, and published in ‘Circulation’, a journal published by AHA.

We’re taught to fear saturated fat and welcome ‘heart healthy’ grains and cereals, loaded with anti-nutrients & even more sugars. Perhaps the health issues we find prevalent today stem from what else we’re eating, not animal foods our ancestors have been eating for centuries, much before the rise of chronic disease.


[1] Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JHY, Appel LJ, Creager MA, Kris- Etherton PM, Miller M, Rimm EB, Rudel LL, Robinson JG et al: Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2017, 136(3):e1-e23.Â

[2] Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2010, 91(3):535-546. 
 [3] Jakobsen MU, O'Reilly EJ, Heitmann BL, Pereira MA, Balter K, Fraser GE, Goldbourt U, Hallmans G, Knekt P, Liu S et al: Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2009, 89(5):1425-1432.Â

[4] Dayton S, Pearce ML, Hashimoto S, Dixon WJ, Tomiyasu U. A controlled clinical trial of a diet high in unsaturated fat in preventing complications of atherosclerosis. Circulation. 1969;40(suppl II):II-1–II-63. [5] MRC study — find reference from [1] Controlled trial of soya-bean oil in myocardial infarction. Lancet. 1968;2:693–699.Â

[6] Leren P: The Oslo diet-heart study. Eleven-year report. Circulation 1970, 42(5):935-942. 
 [7] Miettinen M, Turpeinen O, Karvonen MJ, Elosuo R, Paavilainen E: Cholesterol-lowering diet and mortality from coronary heart-disease. Lancet 1972, 2(7792):1418-1419.