From Featuring Dr Chris Steele MBE

Changing fats cuts risk of heart disease

Polyunsaturated fats better

Most of us now know that we should be cutting back on the amount of saturated fat we eat, but a new study suggests that what we eat in its place is equally important when it comes to protecting our heart.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that replacing the saturated fat in your diet with polyunsaturated fat cuts the risk of heart disease by 19%.

Researchers analysed the results of eight previous studies involving over 13,000 people. Everyone who took part in the studies had some of the saturated fat in their diet replaced with polyunsaturated fat. The rate of heart disease was also recorded.

The results showed showed that increasing the amount of polyunsaturated fat as a replacement for saturated fat reduced the risk of heart disease events by 19%.

In addition, for every 5% increase in polyunsaturated fat consumption there was a 10% drop in heart disease.

"The specific replacement nutrient for saturated fat may be very important," said Dariush Mozaffarian from the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH. "Our findings suggest that polyunsaturated fats would be a preferred replacement for saturated fats for better heart health."

Polyunsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils (sunflower and corn), oily fish such as as salmon, mackerel and herring, and some types of nuts including walnuts.

This article was published on Tue 23 March 2010