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The big fat debate

Researchers backed by the US dairy industry say saturated fat is unfairly blamed for causing heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 11, 2010 01:48 IST

Researchers backed by the US dairy industry say saturated fat is unfairly blamed for causing heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Instead of blaming whole milk and cheeses for clogging arteries, they argue, people should reduce carbohydrates and eat more fish — alongside a glass of milk. That’s the message from the Global Dairy Platform, promoting a series of research articles published in the October issue of Lipids.

“Although diets inordinately high in fat and saturated fat are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk in some individuals, assuming that saturated fat at any intake level is harmful is an over-simplification and not supported by scientific evidence,” said Bruce German, a food science professor at the University of California.

The dairy industry says saturated fat intake has a limited impact on cardiovascular disease risk. For years, they’ve argued that dietary advice wrongly blames saturated fat as the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.

But the American Heart Association (AHA) advises that no more than seven percent of daily calories come from saturated fat, that occurs naturally in many foods, including pork, cream, butter and other dairy products.

Total fat intake should not exceed 35 percent of daily calories, the AHA advises. The remainder should come from nuts, fish and vegetable oils, that’re sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.