(NaturalNews) Saturated fat does not cause heart disease, and the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats being pushed by mainstream medicine and the media as healthy alternatives are actually the real health threats. These are the unconventional findings of a new study out of the University of Cambridge (UoC), which revealed that saturated fat intake does not increase one's risk of heart disease as is commonly believed.
For his research, Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, a cardiovascular epidemiologist from UoC's Department of Public Health and Primary Care, analyzed data from 72 different studies on the subject from 18 different countries. He and his team measured total saturated fatty acid intake among a pool of more than 600,000 participants, whose intake and blood levels of the class of fat were both tracked in relation to heart disease risk.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine, findings from the observational analysis confirmed that saturated fat is not to be feared, as it does not play a direct role in causing heart disease. Similarly, other types of fats widely considered to be healthy alternatives to saturated fat are not necessarily so, and in many cases do not help decrease disease risk.
"The investigators found that total saturated fatty acid, whether measured in the diet or in the bloodstream as a biomarker, was not associated with coronary disease risk in the observational studies," explains The Times of India. "Additionally, when the authors investigated the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplementations on reducing coronary disease in the randomised controlled trials, they did not find any significant effects."
Sources of fat are every bit as important as types of fat
This is not to say that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are not healthy, which could be inappropriately inferred from the study. On the contrary, these nutrients have their place within the confines of a healthy diet, particularly when they are obtained from the appropriate sources.
Unlike other studies that have looked solely at total intake of both saturated and unsaturated fat, regardless of their unique sources, this new study looked at fatty acid subtypes, including all the unique fatty acid varieties that fall within the category of omega-3, for instance. From this, they discovered that these nutrients can have varying effects on the body depending on their food sources.
"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," explains NDTV.com.
As it turns out, the human body actually requires saturated fat for proper muscle growth and development, for example. It also helps regulate the endocrine system, balancing hormones and feeding the brain the nutrients it needs for memory and cognitive function.
"I had a lot of inflammation from being a runner and I found that when I went on a more Paleo/primal diet and got away from carbohydrates and had more of the fats, the inflammation went away," stated CrossFit trainer Jeff Pickett to KSFY News as part of a recent piece on saturated fat intake.
"I've been able to enjoy a pretty healthy lifestyle and my children are fairly young so I choose to eat this way because I want to stay around for quite a while and teach them the best ways to eat as well," he added, noting that excess carbohydrates, which are often processed with vegetable oils and other "bad" fats, are the real killers.