Bacon cheeseburger

Saturated fats: What our experts say

There has been chatter in the news this week about saturated fats as they relate to heart health.

Heart doctors and organizations like the American Heart Association recommend eating polyunsaturated fatty acids – particularly those called omega-3s and omega-6s – for good heart health. They encourage people to shy away from diets heavy in saturated fats.

However, recent research doesn't support the current logic that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are better for heart health than those with saturated fats. Research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine did not find significant evidence to support eating a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats.

A second study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, found that supplementing a diet with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids did not significantly reduce heart disease risk.

But this research does not mean you should abandon your nuts and fish for a diet rich in beef and cheese.

"The jury is still out as to whether or not saturated fats are just as good as polyunsaturated fats in a heart-healthy diet," said Karamchand Paul, MD, cardiologist at Community Physician Network. "I recommended that patients limit both, and eat them in moderation until a clear consensus has been achieved by researchers and physicians."

Not all fats are created equal, especially when it comes to heart health. Unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in salmon and other fish, tend not to gum up heart vessels. They do not cause plaque like the fats found in beef, pork and dairy products tend to do.

The takeaway?

The current American Heart Association guidelines still stand. The advice from your doctors and the AHA to avoid trans fats, reduce saturated fat, increase intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is valid.

Heart disease prevention

For tips on leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, visit our Community Heart and Vascular website.