No change in AHA recommendations on saturated or poly-unsaturated fat

American Heart Association Media Alert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

DALLAS, February 7, 2013 — The American Heart Association has long recommended limiting saturated fats and using healthier fats, such as mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, instead. The association bases its recommendations on a robust body of scientific studies that demonstrate a strong association between eating a diet high in saturated fat and the development of atherosclerosis, which clogs arteries and causes heart disease.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed data from the late 60’s and early 70’s and concluded that substituting polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), rich in Omega-6 linoleic acid, for saturated fats did not result in cardiovascular benefits among a group of men who had experienced a heart attack or other cardiac event. However, the researchers admitted their analysis was limited by the fact that they did not have access to the original study protocol, so they could not fully appraise its accuracy.

“The British Medical Journal study is interesting, but not conclusive. It is offset by a large body of scientific evidence that continues to show cardiovascular benefits associated with eating mono- and poly-unsaturated fat, rich in Omega-6 linoleic acids, in place of saturated fats,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.

“The American Heart Association continues to recommend limiting saturated fats to less than seven percent of total calories consumed and  supports eating between five to ten percent of total calories from Omega-6 PUFAs, within the context of an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish,” Kris-Etherton said.

Saturated fats are found in foods derived from animals, such as meat, full-fat dairy products such as cheese, and some tropical oils, such as coconut oil. Polyunsaturated fats are derived from plants and are rich in Omega-6 linoleic acid. Examples include sunflower, safflower, sesame and flax seed oils. Mono-unsaturated fats are found in such foods as olives and nuts and are also a healthier fat that can be used in place of saturated fats.

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association volunteers write medical scientific statements and recommendations on cardiovascular disease and stroke topics. The statements are systematic reviews of scientific studies published in recognized journals and have a rigorous peer review and approval process.

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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.


CONTACT: Darcy Spitz: (212) 878-5940: darcy.spitz@heart.org


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