Shun trans fats to lower death risk

Toronto: Trans fats, and not saturated fats found in animal products, are associated with greater risk of death, coronary heart disease and stroke or Type 2 diabetes, researchers from McMaster University have found.

“For years, everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear,” said lead author and assistant professor Russell de Souza.

Saturated fats come mainly from animal products, such as butter, cows’ milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and some plant products such as chocolate and palm oils.

Trans fats are mainly produced industrially from plant oils (a process known as hydrogenation) for use in margarine, snack foods and packaged baked goods.

Current US guidelines recommend that saturated fats are limited to less than 10 percent and trans fats to less than one per cent of energy a day to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.

The team analysed the results of 50 observational studies assessing the association between saturated and/or trans fats and health outcomes in adults.

The team found no clear association between higher intake of saturated fats and death for any reason, coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), ischemic stroke or Type 2 diabetes.

If we tell people to eat less saturated or trans fats, we need to offer a better choice.

“Replace foods high in these fats, such as high-fat or processed meats and donuts, with vegetable oils, nuts, and whole grains,” the authors suggested in a paper published in British Medical Journal (BMJ).