It seems like current research concerning fat intake and heart disease risk coming from the highest echelons of the scientific community is still producing fluctuating conclusions. Recently, adages such as “butter is back” may have been seen when pursuing article headlines - suggesting that previous findings related to saturated fat intake may have over-suggested the associated risk for promoting cardiovascular disease. However, a study recently published in The BMJ concluded that saturated fat found in butter, red meat, frying oils, bacon and various other staples of the common carnivore’s diet does still appear to increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Harvard researchers analyzed health and dietary data from >115,000 people for over two decades and noted that higher intakes of the most common saturated fats - lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid - were associated with an increase in the risk of coronary artery disease of up to 18%.
Promisingly, replacing only 1% of the saturated fat with the same amount of calories from polyunsaturated fats, whole grains, or plant proteins was associated with a 6%-8% lower risk. Now, the study does not conclusively assert that certain forms of saturated fat significantly increase your risk for a heart attack - as various other factors such as chronic stress can have a part to play. And the findings still mirror what current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend: limiting saturated fat intake to <10% of total calories and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy, and vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The take home message stands to not get too crazy with slathering on that butter – because too much saturated fat can still do damage to your cardiovascular system over time.