The Latest Skinny on Trans Fats

A new study from Canada found that trans fats may be linked to an increased risk of both heart disease and death. Saturated fats, however, may not be linked to either — or to an increased risk of stroke or type 2 diabetes.

Russell de Souza, RD, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, in a press release. “Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear.”

Gabriela Pichardo-Lafontaine, MD, an internist at Scott and White Healthcare in Round Rock, TX, explained why saturated fats aren’t necessarily bad, despite what the public may have been told about them.

“Your body needs some fat from food,” Dr. Pichardo-Lafontaine told dailyRx News. “It’s a major source of energy. Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a number of important health benefits. In fact, your body cannot function without saturated fats.”

According to Dr. de Souza, current dietary guidelines recommend limiting trans fats to less than 1 percent and saturated fats to less than 10 percent of the total number of calories consumed daily.

Saturated fats are found in many animal products, including butter, cows’ milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks. Palm oils and chocolate also contain saturated fats.

A high intake of trans fats was linked to a 34 percent increased risk of death from all causes, a 21 percent increased risk of developing heart disease and a 28 percent increased risk of death from heart disease.

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Dr. Pichardo-Lafontaine recommends a balanced diet consisting of grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy — and even some fats — to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

This study was published in the August issue of the BMJ.

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