Based on very limited data and some questionable analysis, there was an early effort to associate diets rich in saturated fats (such as those found in eggs and bacon, butter and meat) with cardiovascular disease (CVD). This coincided with increasing availability of cheap vegetable oils from corn and soy beans. Unfortunately, the shift from saturated fats to omega-6-rich vegetable oils and starch/sugar/high fructose corn syrup was associated with a rise in inflammatory degenerative diseases and not by a decline in CVD. A new analysis shows that saturated fats were never a risk factor for CVD.
Initial Studies Linking Saturated Fats with CVD Were Weak
How did the medical community become convinced that saturated fat was bad for heart and arteries? The simple answer is that the original studies that concluded that saturated fats were a risk factor for CVD, actually presented data to show that the effect, though statistically significant was small. In retrospect, the difference in carbohydrates may have been more important.
More Studies Erode the Risk of Saturated Fats
Analysis of all of the studies linking CVD and dietary saturated fats was performed more ten years ago and the conclusion was that if saturated fats contributed to CVD, the effect was small. Even at that time, there was great skepticism that dietary saturated fats in meat, eggs, dairy products and other foods were a risk for heart and vascular diseases.
The Most Recent Analysis of Saturated Fats and CVD Risk
The best studies of the impact of adding saturated fats to a diet on heart disease and stroke were analyzed in a recent study (see reference below) with the stunning conclusion that saturated fats do not contribute to CVD. This comes at the same time that the efficacy of statins and lowering serum lipids is being questioned.
Saturated Fats Were Always Healthy
Traditionally, a healthy diet contained plenty of protein and fat. Most of that fat was saturated fat from animal products and carbohydrates were from whole grains or starchy vegetables. In the last half century, the meat has become fatter, vegetable oils have been added and breads are higher in available starch. Attempts to blame CVD on saturated fats were misguided and these fats have now been shown to be harmless. Risk is now beginning to shift to dietary vegetable oils and starch.