Since the 1970s, saturated fat has been blamed for heart disease because it raises blood levels of cholesterol. However, several major studies in recent years have challenged the diet-heart hypothesis and failed to find a relationship between saturated fat consumption and heart disease (1, 2).
And now a systematic review and meta-analysis performed by the Cochrane collaboration and published last month looked further into the relationship between saturated fat consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease (3).
The Cochrane collaboration is an independent organization of scientists that does objective and highly thorough reviews of randomized controlled trials. So this is the highest quality scientific evidence.
The review included 15 randomized controlled trials with over 59,000 participants.
What did they find?
To begin with, they found that reducing saturated fat has no statistically significant effect on total mortality. In other words, you are just as likely to die if you significantly cut back on saturated fat intake.
The study also found that those who reduced their intake of saturated fat were just as likely to die from heart attacks or strokes.
The findings of this study are similar to a previous Cochrane review that was done in 2011 (4).
In the end, this recent review is just another nail in the coffin of the diet-heart hypothesis. This high-quality study shows that reducing saturated fat has no effect on heart attacks, strokes or the risk of dying from all causes.
So don’t fear saturated fat. Eat whole foods and the natural fats within them, and you’ll be fine.