NMU 141 – UK Gov Sat Fat and Heart Disease Update
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 141 (August 28, 2019)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Scientific Advisory Committee Reconfirms That Saturated Fat Intake is Major Danger for High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Source: Gov. UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (August 2019)
Published on August 1st, 2019, the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, along with Public Health England, released its updated comprehensive review on Saturated fats and health (SACN Report). The findings of the report were based on examining the results from 47 systematic reviews and meta-analysis. In this report the Advisory Committee concluded the following:
- higher saturated fat consumption is linked to raised blood cholesterol
- higher intakes of saturated fat are associated with increased risk of heart disease
- saturated fats should be swapped with unsaturated fats
- there is no need to change current advice that saturated fat should not exceed around 10% of food energy (per day)
A chief spokesperson for the report went on to state that, “our report confirms that reducing saturated fat lowers total blood cholesterol and cuts the risk of heart disease” In today’s world, much of the chatter about reducing heart disease risk entails warnings about reducing intake of trans-fats, deep-fried and breaded foods, and consumption of too much-refined sugar. This is all valid and sound advice. But, for some reason, the discussion about saturated fat is often forgotten. And this is problematic.
Here’s why, when you ingest saturated fat, it gets absorbed from the gut and much of it travels to the liver. The arrival of saturated fat in the liver turns on cholesterol production, which is required to transport saturated fat through the bloodstream, where it is picked up and burned as an energy source by muscles or stored in our fat cells – making them larger. This process raises blood cholesterol levels beyond what is ideal for good health, and the excess cholesterol ultimately gets laid down as plaque in our arteries. This causes progressive narrowing, which leads to blockage and resulting heart attack, ischemic stroke and contributes to other vascular problems – such as neuropathy, blindness, and gangrene in diabetics.
High saturated fat intake also makes your blood stickier, which increases the risk of abnormal blood clots, further increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke or life-threatening deep vein thrombosis. High saturated fat intake also increases inflammation by activating receptors on certain immune cells (toll-like 4 receptors on macrophages). Higher levels of inflammation in the artery wall also increase the risk of a heart attack. Regarding nutrition for those over 5 years old, there is really nothing good to say about saturated fat. Yet, most people consume too much of it. So what foods are the main culprits?
Studies show that the major problems we have are with these foods:
- Most cakes – other than Angel Food Cake. The frosting of cake is especially loaded with saturated fat
- Donuts and many other pastries (Cruller, Danish pastry, cream puffs, chocolate eclair, pie and/or pie crust, any product with milk chocolate- chocolate bar).
- Even some muffins have more than 2 gm of saturated fat. So, check the label or the company’s nutrition guide.
- Many types of biscuits
- Pancakes – depending on how they are made
- French toast
- Beef and beef products
- Pork and pork products
- Butter and Lard
- Cream and Ice cream
- Any milk of yogurt above 1% milk fat
- Any cheese above 3% milk fat
- Palm oil
- Coconut oil
- Chicken breasts are lower in saturated fat than Chicken legs (and skinless chicken breast is best)
- Also, some breakfast cereals (read the package)
- Potato chips
- Some prepackaged popcorn and popcorn you buy at the movies
Okay, you get the idea. Remember that the ideal total blood cholesterol to shoot for is at or below 3.9 mmol/L (150 mg/dl) with an LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) at or below 1.5 mmol/L (58 mg/dl). So, if you haven’t done it recently, get your blood cholesterol checked, after a 12- hour fast, and see how you are stack up against these ideal values regarding your own heart disease risk. If your numbers are above these ideal values, then I suggest you get to work on further eliminating or reducing the foods I reviewed here, which contain undesirable amounts of saturated fat. Your heart and your arteries will be in better shape if you do.
I have included the reference for this information in the text below.
1. Gov. UK Independent Report: Saturated fats and health: SACN Report) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/saturated-fats-and-health-sacn-report
2. Full Downloadable Report SACN: SACN_report_on_saturated_fat_and_health.pdf
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino