A new study raises questions about current guidelines which generally restrict the consumption of saturated fats and encourage consumption of polyunsaturated fats to prevent heart disease. The research was published today, 18 March, in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
An international research collaboration led by the University of Cambridge analysed existing cohort studies and randomised trials on coronary risk and fatty acid intake. They showed that current evidence does not support guidelines which restrict the consumption of saturated fats in order to prevent heart disease. The researchers also found insufficient support for guidelines which advocate the high consumption of polyunsaturated fats (such as omega 3 and omega 6) to reduce the risk of coronary disease.
Furthermore, when specific fatty acid subtypes (such as different types of omega 3) were examined, the effects of the fatty acids on cardiovascular risk varied even within the same broad 'family' questioning the existing dietary guidelines that focus principally on the total amount of fat from saturated or unsaturated rather than the food sources of the fatty acid subtypes.
Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the research at the University of Cambridge, said: "These are interesting results that potentially stimulate new lines of scientific inquiry and encourage careful reappraisal of our current nutritional guidelines.
"Cardiovascular disease, in which the principal manifestation is coronary heart disease, remains the single leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from a cardiovascular cause globally. With so many affected by this illness, it is critical to have appropriate prevention guidelines which are informed by the best available scientific evidence."
For the meta-analysis, the researchers analysed data from 72 unique studies with over 600,000 participants from 18 nations. The
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University of Cambridge