Trans Fats Linked to Heart Disease and Death, but Saturated Fats May Be in the Clear

Trans Fats Linked to Heart Disease and Death, but Saturated Fats May Be in the Clear
Trans Fats Linked to Heart Disease and Death, but Saturated Fats May Be in the Clear

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Industrially-produced trans fats are more common in the Western diet, which may explain why they do so much damage. 

A study published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has found that while trans fats continue to be linked to greater risk of heart disease and death, saturated fats — commonly found in “animal products, such as butter, cows’ milk, meat, salmon, and egg yolks, and some plant products such as chocolate and cocoa butter, coconut, and palm kernel oils” — do not pose the same dangers.

The study, which compared data from 50 observational studies measuring adult health in relation to their consumption of saturated and trans fats, were all chosen because they reported “associations… with all-cause mortality (death for any reason not directly linked to a disease), CHD/CVD mortality, total CHD, ischemic stroke, or Type 2 diabetes.”

The resulting research found that in fact, higher saturated fat intake could not be associated with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, coronary heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes.

“Trans fats,” however, “are associated with all-cause mortality, total CHD, and CHD mortality, probably because of higher levels of intake of industrial (manufactured) trans fats than ruminant (derived from animals) trans fats.” Industrial trans fats were associated for a 34 percent increase in all-cause death, a 28 percent increase in mortality due to coronary heart disease, and a 21 percent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease.

“Dietary guidelines must carefully consider the health effects of recommendations for alternative macronutrients to replace trans fats and saturated fats,” the researchers concluded. 

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