Healthy fats, healthy hearts

| Post published on May 29, 2017
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The American Heart Association published an advisory on fats and heart disease to give a clear warning against saturated fats

The American Heart Association reviewed scientific studies, data and other evidence on fat intake and how it affects your risk of heart disease. The result was a clear warning – saturated fat is bad news and the less of it we eat, the better. They recommended that it’s best to replace saturated fat with unsaturated or, in other words, replace unhealthy animal fat, coconut and palm oil in your diet with good plant fats from nuts and seeds, avocadoes, soya and unrefined vegetable oils. The advisory also emphasised the importance of a diet rich in wholesome plant foods and warned against refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour products, processed snacks).

The official position on fat from meat and milk is that it is a rich source of saturated fat, raises cholesterol and its consumption should not be encouraged. Butter is definitely not back!

Coconut and palm oil are the two exceptions from plant fats – they are both very high in saturated fat and therefore cannot be recommended. On the other hand, the rest of vegetable oils are considered healthy as long as they are not hydrogenated (a practice which most manufacturers are dropping but do check the ingredients).

Take home message? Snack on small amounts of nuts and seeds, sprinkle ground flaxseed on your cereal and use rapeseed oil for cooking (both great for omega-3 fats), use virgin olive oil for dressings and bread dipping, enjoy avocadoes and chia seed pudding and don’t forget about the good fats in soya and hemp milks!

Sacks FM et al., 2017. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 136(3):e1-e23.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

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