Saturated Fat & Heart Disease

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease


The Nutrition Coalition has compiled a list of nearly 20 review papers on the scientific evidence of saturated fats (and heart disease).

The information below was taken from Dr. Peter Attia’s presentation entitled Readdressing Dietary Guidelines given on January 28, 2015.

The available evidence from cohort and randomized controlled trials is unsatisfactory and unreliable to make judgment about and substantiate the effects of dietary fat on risk of CHD.

FAO/WHO Expert Consultation background paper, 2009

Meta-analysis written by a group from Oakland Children’s Hospital under Ron Krauss, who is one of the three biggest thought-leaders on cardiovascular disease…

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.

Siri-Tarino et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010

A very large meta-analysis of 49 observational trials with about half a million subjects and 27 randomized controlled trials with more than 100,000 patients…

Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

Chowdhury et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014

Important studies

United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs

This was a select committee of the United States Senate between 1968 and 1977. It was sometimes referred to as the McGovern committee, after its only chairman, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.

Recommendation #1

Increase carbohydrate consumption to 55-60% of calories.

Recommendation #2

Reduce fat consumption to 30% of calories.

The Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular cohort study of residents of the city of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants. Prior to the study almost nothing was known about the epidemiology of hypertensive or arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Much of the now-common knowledge concerning heart disease, such as the effects of diet, exercise, and common medications such as aspirin, is based on this longitudinal study. It is a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in collaboration with (since 1971) Boston University.

Minnesota Coronary Study (1973),

Frantz, Principal Investigator

Jerry Reaven from Stanford University observed something in the mid 1990’s. There is a cluster of metabolic findings that predict heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease far better than anything else.

This was called Syndrome X and is known today as metabolic syndrome. If you have 3 of the 5 findings in the list, your risk for metabolic diseases goes through the roof.

The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), 1982

The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-CPPT), 1984

1989 – National Academy of Sciences Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk (1,300 pages)

“Highest priority is given to reducing fat intake, because the scientific evidence concerning dietary fats and other lipids and human health is strongest and the likely impact on public health the greatest.”

Evidence, Post-consensus

1990 – today

Meta-Analyses (2001)

Cochrane Colalboration: “Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease”

Meta-Analyses (2006)

Cochrane Colalboration: “Multiple risk factor interventions for primary prevention for coronary heart disease”

Meta-Analyses (2011)

Cochrane Colalboration: “Multiple risk factor interventions for primary prevention for coronary heart disease” [updated]

Women’s Health Initiative (2006)


Drugs and diets are not comparable.

Drugs have multiple actions as do diets.

Saying that statins reduce heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol, is like saying that aspirin reduces heart disease risk by reducing headaches.

Richard Kronmal, University of Washington