Heart health is not one of America’s strong points. Unfortunately, about 25% of deaths each year are because of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The American Heart Association has done a new review and found that lowering saturated fat intake can work as well as statins for helping lower cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association (AHA) always gives suggestions of how to be healthy and take care of your heart. They conduct some of the most important and leading research on heart health.
They have previously recommended to reduce the amount of saturated fats we consume each day. Studies have proven that eating a balanced diet of lean meat, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats instead of saturated ones can reduce the risk of CVD.
Because of inconsistencies and differing findings on somewhat similar studies, there are different guidelines about how much saturated fat to eat a day. The AHA recommends 5%-6% of your overall caloric intake, while the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 10%.
To help create more certainty in the advice to follow, the AHA reviewed existing research and information regarding the effect of saturated fats.
The lead author and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Frank Sacks, expounded on why they decided to conduct the review:
“We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Saturated fat increases LDL [low-density lipoprotein] – bad cholesterol – which is a major cause of artery-clogging plaque and cardiovascular disease.”
The AHA recommends replacing saturated fats with mono-and polyunsaturated fats, similar to the DASH Diet. The DASH Diet is low in red meat, salt, and sugar but high in vegetables, fruits, unsaturated vegetable oils, and low-fat dairy.
Dr. Sacks and his team also found by reviewing the information that reducing saturated fat intake and replacing it with polyunsaturated fat and oils decreased the risk of CVD by 33%. This finding shows that lowering saturated fat intake can work as well as statins.
Statins generally decrease the risk of CVD by 30% as well. Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels and can have undesired side effects.
Limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat per day is a much easier, healthier way to go about reducing the risk of CVD. It’s also less expensive because you’re not paying an extra cost for drugs.
Examples of oils with polyunsaturated fats include soybean, peanut, and corn. Despite popular belief, coconut oil is not a healthy fat. It contains high amounts of LDL (bad cholesterol), similar to beef and butter.
Dr. Sacks had an additional warning concerning replacing saturated fats with sugar and carbs: “A healthy diet doesn’t just limit certain unfavorable nutrients, such as saturated fats, that can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other blood vessel diseases,” Sacks continues. “It should also focus on healthy foods rich in nutrients that can help reduce disease risk, like poly- and mono-unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and others.”