- Solid at room temperature
- Available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom
- All the carbon-atom linkages are filled-or saturated-with
- Found in animal fats
- Found in some plant sources
- cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
- Proper utilization of essential fatty acids.
- Consumption of Saturated fats may allow for better retention
of Omega-3 fatty
acids in serum and liver (Garg 1989, 1990)
- Protect liver from alcohol and possibly other toxins (Cha
& Sachan 1994, Nanji 1995)
- Saturated fatty acids are resistant to heat-induced degradation,
unlike Polyunsaturated fats
(Grootveld 2001, Halvorsen 2011)
The role of saturated fat in cardiovascular disease has become
- Prevailing hypothesis influencing US public policy
- High Saturated Fat --> High Cholesterol --> Heart Disease
- Saturated fats can be converted to cholesterol
- Main cause of high blood cholesterol according to American
- For each 5 percent increase of energy intake from saturated
fat, a 17 percent increase in the risk of coronary disease (relative
risk, 1.17%; 95 percent confidence interval) as compared with
equivalent energy intake from carbohydrates (Hu 1997)
- Total fat intake was not significantly related to the risk
of coronary disease
- Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials finds that
increasing consumption of polyunsaturated
fat as a replacement for saturated fat reduces the risk of
coronary heart disease (Mozaffarian 2010).
- Plasma concentrations of even chain saturated phospholipid
fatty acid are positively related to subsequent coronary heart
disease risk, where as concentrations of omega-6 phospholipid
fatty acid are inversely related (Khaw 2012).
- Interestingly, blood monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3
poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and trans-fatty
acids were not consistently associated with coronary heart
- Authors admit factors other than diet (eg: genetic differences
in metabolism) may alter blood fatty acid levels.
- Other studies listed under Alternative Hypothesis (below)
are frequently presented in support of the Lipid Hypothesis but
in fact refute the Lipid hypothesis upon closer scrutiny.
- Alternative hypothesis suggests cardiovascular disease is
not a result of high saturated fat intakes as once widely believed
- but instead a biological response to chronic inflammation
- likely triggered by sedetary lifestyle and other dietary
issues such high Linoleic
fatty acid ratio, and over consumption of trans-fats,
- misunderstandings of saturated fats have been attributed
to studies design flaws, unethical manipulation of data, and
misrepresentation or misinterpreted of findings. (Texon 1989)
- Others have suggested publication biases favoring studies
that continue to reinforce particular political and industrial
agendas to influence public policy. (Also see USDA
The Seven Countries Study
- First landmark study that linked the consumption of dietary
fat to coronary heart disease
- This study served as the basis for nearly all of the initial
scientific support for the Cholesterol Theory.
- It was later discover discovered that the author unethically
selectively analyzed information from only seven countries to
prove his correlation
- rather than comparing all available data from all 22 countries
which it turns out showed no correlation between dietary fat
and heart disease after all
- Began 1948 and involved 6,000 subjects from Framingham, Massachusetts,
- Identified heart disease risk factors such as smoking, high
blood pressure, lack of exercise and high cholesterol.
- The cholesterol link was weak.
- Subject who weighed more and had abnormally high blood cholesterol
levels were slightly more at risk for future heart disease
- However, subject who ate more saturated fat, more dietary
cholesterol and more calories actually were the most physically
active, weighed the least and had lower serum cholesterol levels.
- Noted by Dr. William Castelli, a former director of the Framingham
Heart study (Catelli 1992).
The Cholesterol-heart Disease Hypothesis Critique (Texon
- Meyer Texon, MD calls into question the lipid hypothesis
- Claims that the American Heart Association and the National
Institute of Health misrepresent scientific data.
- Pointed out abuses of statistical analysis in studies such
as the Helsinki Heart Study and the National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute's multimillion dollar studies.
- "Thus, after seven years at a cost of $150 million dollars
studying 3,806 men, the difference in death was 3 men."
- Questioned the proposed benefit to cost relationship for
attempting to lowering cholesterol.
- Calls for more promising alternative directions for atherosclerosis
U.S. Multiple Risk Factor Intervention
- Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
- Compared mortality rates and eating habits of over 12,000
- Men with "good" dietary habits (reduced saturated
fat and cholesterol, reduced smoking, etc.)
- Demonstrated marginal reduction in total coronary heart disease.
- Demonstrated higher overall mortality from all causes.
- increase in deaths from cancer, brain hemorrhage, suicide,
and violent death.
- After 10 years no significant difference in death from heart
disease or total death.
The South Carolina Experience (Lackland 1990)
- A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of
blood cholesterol levels with consumption of nine fat intake
habits including the consumption of red meat, fat on meat, fried
fish/chicken, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon/sausage, cheese,
and the use of solid fats when cooking vegetables.
Post-mortem Autopsies (Felton 1994)
- Comparisons of aortic plaques with serum and adipose tissue
imply a direct influence of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids
on aortic plaque formation.
- No associates where found with saturated fats
- Arterial plaque is primarily composed of unsaturated fats,
particularly polyunsaturated fats.
Review of Literature (Ravnskov 1998)
- Reviewed studies examining the direct link between dietary
fats and atherosclerotic vascular disease in humans.
- The review included ecological, dynamic population, cross-sectional,
cohort, case-control studies, and controlled, randomized trials
of the effect of fat reduction alone.
- He concludes that their is little evidence that Saturated
Fatty Acids as a group are harmful or that Polyunsaturated Fatty
Acids as a group are beneficial.
Anonymous (1982). Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial;
Risk Factor Changes and Mortality Results. JAMA. 248:12:1465
Castelli WP (1992) Concerning the Possibility of a Nut....
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and unsaturated fatty acids on ethanol-pharmacokinetics, triglycerides
and carnitines. J Am Coll Nutr. 13(4),338-43.
Eberly LE, Neaton JD, Thomas AJ, Yu D, et al (2004). Multiple-stage
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Enig M, Fallon F (1999). Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook
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polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques.
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Garg ML, Wierzbicki AA, Thomson AB, Clandinin MT (1989).
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Garg ML, Thomson ABR, and Clandinin MT (1990). Interactions
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Grootveld M, Silwood CJL, Addis P, Claxson A, Serra BB,
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BA, Hennekens CH, Willett WC (1997). Dietary fat intake and the
risk of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med. 337(21):1491-9.
Khaw KT, Friesen MD, Riboli E, Luben R, Wareham N (2012).
Plasma phospholipid fatty acid concentration and incident coronary
heart disease in men and women: the EPIC-Norfolk prospective
study. PLoS Med. 2012;9(7):e1001255.
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survey methodology: the South Carolina experience. J Nutr. 120
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heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated
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AJ (1995). Dietary saturated fatty acids: a novel treatment for
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