Turns out that delicious animal fats found in butter, cream, and chocolate are nowhere nearly as bad as we have been brainwashed to believe. A massive new study in Canada undertaken by researchers at McMaster University found no significant link between saturated fat consumption and mortality or heart disease. But surprise, surprise—the real culprits are the industrially processed trans fats found in margarine, long considered to be a "healthier" alternative to its more calorific animal counterpart.
At the moment, most dietary guidelines recommend that saturated fats take up 10 percent of daily caloric intake and 1 percent for trans fats. But given these recent findings, the McMaster team has left open the possibility for a re-evaluation of future fat intake guidelines, which could mean more fat for all of us.
"Contrary to prevailing dietary advice, a recent evidence review found no excess cardiovascular risk associated with intake of saturated fat," the researchers said in a statement. "In contrast, research suggests that industrial trans fats may increase the risk of coronary heart disease."
Unlike animal fats which are naturally solid at room temperature, trans fats are made by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oil in order to keep them solid and increase shelf life. The hydrogenated fats can be found in everything from frozen pizza to coffee creamer and microwave popcorn.
Researchers looked at data from over one million participants in 50 earlier studies and the results are clear: "Saturated fats are not associated with an increased risk of death, heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes."
While no real health risks were found to be associated with saturated fats, consumption of industrial trans fats was actually associated with a 34 percent overall increase in mortality and a 28 percent increase in heart disease.
This is obviously good news for anyone who likes a dollop of butter on their avocadoes, cream in their coffee, or making their own ice cream with full-fat milk.
So the next time you indulge in the lipids, take a moment to stop and appreciate the hard work of researchers at McMaster's Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics whose study can now allow you to do this guilt-free.