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New report supports current recommendations for saturated fat intake

A new report from SACN strengthens the current recommendation that foods high in saturated fat should be eaten less often.

A new report from the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has looked at the effect of saturated fat, and replacement of saturated fat with different nutrients on a number of health outcomes.

The results support the current recommendation that foods high in saturated fat should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts and that we should swap to unsaturated fats as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Based on 47 systematic reviews and meta-analyses SACN concluded that:

  • Higher saturated fat consumption is linked to raised blood cholesterol
  • Higher intakes of saturated fat are associated with increased risk of heart disease
  • Saturated fats should be swapped with unsaturated fats
  • There is no need to change current advice that saturated fat should not exceed around 10 percent of food energy.

The new report also highlights evidence from clinical trials that show that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats (especially polyunsaturated fats) can have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.

The report says that current public health advice should continue to promote cutting back on fatty meats.

A further recommendation from the report is that public health advice should continue to promote cutting back on key contributors to saturated fat in the diet such as fatty meats, pastry, higher fat dairy products, cakes and biscuits and advises that in order to reduce consumers’ risk of cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic diseases, it’s important to eat a healthy dietary pattern.

SACN has pointed to the UK Eatwell Guide, which provides guidance on the proportions of different food groups that make up a healthy diet and this can be applied to suit different dietary patterns including the plant-based and Mediterranean diets, which have been shown in many studies to reduce CVD risk. 

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