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New meta-study questions fat in diet wisdom

Diet advice about saturated fats is called into question.
Diet advice about saturated fats is called into question.
Photo by: Karen Barefoot via Stock.xchng

There has been a lot written over the years promoting the use of low fat dairy products. The diet and nutrition experts have long stated that saturated fat in the diet leads to coronary heart disease, and the limiting these fats will result in a healthier heart. People were told to avoid trans-fats and saturated fats, but that omega-3 fatty had protective qualities when it came to preventing heart disease.

This was good news to the dietary supplement industry, who sold millions of fish oil capsules to health conscious adults.

However, this "conventional wisdom" was once again questioned in a newly published paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This paper, written by Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury and 13 other researches, found that the evidence did not clearly support the claims about saturated fats link to heart disease.

Dr. Chowdhury's group conducted a meta-study of 76 individual studies that looked at the dietary habits of over 600,000 people. The studies examined what people ate, as well as the amount of fatty acids that were present in the blood stream of the subjects. They looked at the effect of saturated fats, trans-fats, and the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

They did find that there was evidence to support the claims that trans-fats had a direct link to heart disease, but that was the only support they gave to the diet experts. Not only was there no evidence that saturated fats in the diet had an effect on heart disease, they also questioned the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids.

According to the findings of this study there was no evidence that omega-3 fatty acids have any impact on protecting from heart disease. There are several other studies that are currently underway that are looking specifically at the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

One of the difficulties in examining the dietary effects on human health is that many of the health risks occur over a long period of time. There are so many factors that affect health that it is difficult to determine direct cause and effect. To complicate matters, many people do not have the will power to stick to a diet for a long period of times, often many years. Researchers are forced to rely on the honesty of the participants when they report their diets.

As further studies are completed, the diet and nutrition industry will be forced to continually re-examine and adjust their dietary recommendations to take into account the new evidence.

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