Saturated fat could be back on the menu, maybe...

For years now, we’ve been told that saturated fat, found in meat, eggs and dairy, is the cause of heart disease. But yet another study shows that the black-listed nutrient may not be as bad as we’ve been led to believe.

An analysis of 123 studies of dietary fat and cardiovascular health by a team from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, was unable to find a clear association between saturated fats and the incidences of heart or cardiovascular disease over time.

On the contrary, trans fats, which are typically hydrogenated (solidified) vegetable fats found in foods like margarine, doughnuts, pies and biscuits, were associated with a 21 per cent rise in the likelihood of developing heart disease, and a 28 per cent rise in the risk of dying from this condition.

The prevailing health advice is to avoid saturated fats, limiting them to around 10 per cent of the energy intake of your diet.

But while researchers aren’t yet willing to make the case for saturated fats to be taken off the black list, their reputation is certainly on the rise. Again.

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How many healthy older folk do you know who lived on bread and dripping, bacon and eggs and mutton on Sundays?

Once upon a time, people weren’t afraid of fat, but the crucial difference was that is was harder to come by. Perhaps if we weren’t all snacking on fried food in between our saturated-fat laden meals the issue of which fat to eat would be a non-issue.

It’s food for thought.

In the meantime, health recommendations will remain in place. Although the research team was unable to find a link between saturated fat and heart disease in their analysis, that doesn’t definitively mean there isn’t one. Saturated fats could pose other risks we’re not yet aware of.

Victoria Taylor, a dietician for the British Heart Foundation, says, “There are many factors which cause coronary heart disease and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for this. We will continue to recommend switching saturated fat for unsaturated fat, consistent with a traditional Mediterranean-style diet.”

Do you avoid saturated fats, or do you say “bring on the bacon”?