Cardiologist aims to bust saturated fat ‘myth’

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Is butter really so bad for you?
Is butter really so bad for you?

Related tags: Heart disease, Nutrition, Atherosclerosis

Advice to cut saturated fat has actually increased cardiovascular risk – and high fat dairy and red meat have been unfairly demonised, claims cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in the British Medical Journal.

Malhotra, interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London, said that too much focus on saturated fat and government obsession with cholesterol had meant other dietary components – like sugar – had been overlooked, and statins had been over-prescribed.

“Recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk,”​ he wrote. “Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective.”

“…It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.”

‘Conflicting results’

However, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) disagrees, and said in a statement that there was conflicting evidence on the dietary risk factors for heart disease.

 “Studies on the link between diet and disease frequently produce conflicting results because, unlike drug trials, it’s very difficult to undertake a properly controlled, randomised study,” ​said BHF medical director professor Peter Weissberg.

“However, people with highest cholesterol levels are at highest risk of a heart attack and it’s also clear that lowering cholesterol, by whatever means, lowers risk.”

Advice to reduce saturated fat is based on its role in raising levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the blood. But Malhotra points to several population studies in healthy adults that suggest high total cholesterol is not a risk factor for heart disease for the general population. However, he does acknowledge that there is strong evidence that trans fats increase heart disease risk.

Food industry reformulation

He also said the food industry was at least partly to blame for increasing rates of heart disease, as it had compensated for saturated fat reduction by adding sugar to many products.

“The scientific evidence is mounting that sugar is a possible independent risk factor for the metabolic syndrome,”​ he wrote.

The paper is not the first to suggest that sugar consumption tends to rise when fat consumption is reduced. A recent study​ published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition​ identified a ‘sugar-fat seesaw’, possibly explaining why dieters find it hard to reduce both sugar and fat consumption at the same time.

Access Malhotra’s full column in the BMJ here​.

Related topics: Science, Reformulation, Fats & oils

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Free booklet: Fat extraction for food analysis

Free booklet: Fat extraction for food analysis

BÜCHI Labortechnik AG | 09-Dec-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Fat extraction is a standard reference method for quality control, labeling and satisfying stringent regulations. "The five essentials of fat extraction...

Stable antioxidants for deep frying applications

Stable antioxidants for deep frying applications

Kancor Ingredients Limited | 22-Jul-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Large quantities of wastage occur for frying oil in the snacking segment. When oil is fried at high temperatures, it quickly reaches its smoke point and...

Edible Oil Oxidation Monitoring with the microESR

Edible Oil Oxidation Monitoring with the microESR

Bruker BioSpin | 04-Jul-2018 | Application Note

Rancidity of vegetable oils occurs during storage and is caused by oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, resulting in foul odors and tastes in the product....

Does Europe Want to Ban Palm Oil?

Does Europe Want to Ban Palm Oil?

The Oil Palm | 12-Feb-2018 | Business Advice

The European Parliament has voted to ban Palm Oil biofuels under the Renewable Energy Directive. There is one key question the Council of the European...

Related suppliers


Show more

Myth about saturated natural fat and artificial trans fats.

Posted by Dr D K Gupta, Dean Academics Amity University Lucknow.,

My Dear Aseem Malhotra the way Lord Krishna consumed butter he would have died of heart attack before reaching Mathura and killing Kansa. Trans fats found in refined oils & hydrogenated(incl. partial) or real bad fats causing atherosclerosis and disturbing lipid profile subsequent to it. After I left trans fat consumption my total chol. is 107 with ldl/hdl ok.

Report abuse

about sugar...

Posted by Muriel Strand,

Report abuse


Posted by harry,

While vegetable fat very important in a balance diet they should never be used in cooking. Butter and beef fat remains the best choice in a balanced diet and to use in cooking. Reduced beef fat results in weak muscles, especially abdominal muscle.

Report abuse

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more