Saturated fats no longer the true enemy

Saturated fats are not the enemy. But processed foods are, according to a new policy statement from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

On Thursday, the foundation released a new policy statement that questions conventional wisdom about the dangers of saturated fats on the heart.

Saturated fat is found naturally in red meat, dairy products and certain oils, such as palm oil. For years, a debate has raged over whether saturated fat contributes to poor heart health. Many nutrition and dietary experts, including the American Heart Association, warn that saturated fats can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and urge people to limit consumption of dairy, red meat and fried, processed food.

But recently, more evidence has emerged that calls that relationship into question. Although more work needs to be done to fully understand how saturated fats affect long-term health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation said it no longer makes sense to single it out. Instead, Canadians need to focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat and other products that have not been processed, said Manuel Arango, director of health policy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation. There is no question that fried and processed foods contribute to poor long-term health, he said.

The organization is also urging Canadians to stop fixating on one particular aspect of food – such as fat, sodium, calories, sugar – and instead focus on eating unprocessed, whole foods. Also steer clear of products advertised as low fat because, chances are, they are loaded with other things you don’t want, such as calories, sodium or other additives, according to the association.

The Globe and Mail: Saturated fats no longer the true enemy, experts say