(UNDATED) - New research suggests that saturated fat may not be as bad for your heart as we thought, though one cardiologist isn't so sure.
A review of several studies by scientists at Cambridge University in England showed little relationship between the consumption of saturated fats in foods like meats and dairy and a person's risk for developing heart disease. Researchers say they also found that eating "healthy" polyunsaturated fats - from sources like nuts and fish - did not offer any heart benefits. "I would call this hypothesis generating," said Dr. Kirk Parr, cardiologist at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. "There's not a study in medicine that always gives the absolute answer. I think what this will do is stimulate further research into the issue."
The researchers looked at 72 studies involving 600,000 people in 18 countries, what is known as a meta-analysis. Parr says it is hard to determine a conclusion from meta-analysis because every study is different. "You take a bunch of individual studies with different patients and different populations and try to make sense out of the whole thing. Scientifically, it's a bit suspect," Parr said.
Still, the new study's findings seem to run counter to recommendations from the federal government and the American Heart Association, both of which say you should eat more polyunsaturated fats than saturated fats. "(The researchers) are doing (studies) in good faith. They're trying to see if the question of saturated fats being harmful has been answered, and this merits more study. You think it's been studied to death, well, it hasn't," Parr said.
Parr added he would still adhere to the FDA's recommendation until more research is conducted, meaning all fats - regardless of source - in moderation. "(Saturated fats) don't need to be completely eliminated from diets, but three hamburgers a day, whole milk and hard cheese probably is not in people's best interest."
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