Chewing the Fat

Study Suggests Saturated Fat Isn’t the Dietary Bad Guy We All Thought It Was

Okay, but don't go nuts.
Okay, but don’t go nuts. Photo: Melissa Hom

A study out yesterday challenges conventional dietary wisdom with regard to certain kinds of fats. Specifically, the authors report “null associations” between saturated fat intake and the risk of heart disease, and the findings, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, reflect what seems to be the new consensus among nutritionists — that, as one tells the Times, maybe dietary guidelines shouldn’t give “an absolute upper limit or cutoff point for certain macronutrients.” Concern is shifting toward balancing LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, and on minimizing the smaller, denser, more dangerous form of LDL, which, Michael Bloomberg will likely be happy to hear, has been shown to increase in tandem with a “high carbohydrate or sugary diet,” not fat.

Nutritionists have said for years — almost half a century, in fact — that saturated fats found in meat and dairy increase the bad, artery-clogging type of cholesterol (LDL) and up our risk of heart disease — if you’re gonna have fat, better to eat the unsaturated sort in nuts and fish. As if to keep playing the cautionary nature of a wider array of study results close to the chest, literally, as well as to preemptively keep the arterial blood supply running on time or close to schedule, the Times also quotes a Harvard nutrition professor who says the findings shouldn’t “be taken as a ‘green light to eat more steak, butter, and other foods rich in saturated fat.”

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link [New York Times]

Study Suggests Saturated Fat Isn’t the Dietary Bad Guy We All Thought It