In a new study, researchers have revealed that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, can help reduce the risk of developing heart related problems.
According to the study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), people who swap 5 percent of the calories they consume from saturated fat sources such as red meat and butter, with foods containing linoleic acid-the main polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds-lowered their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events by 9 percent and their risk of death from CHD by 13 percent. Substitution of 5 repcent of calories from carbohydrate with linoleic acid was associated with similar reductions in risk of heart disease.
Senior author Frank Hu said that randomized clinical trials have shown that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces total and LDL cholesterol. And their comprehensive meta-analysis provided clear evidence to support the benefits of consuming polyunsaturated fat as a replacement for saturated fat.
The researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to summarize the evidence regarding the link between dietary linoleic acid intake and CHD risk in generally healthy people. They identified 13 published and unpublished cohort studies with a total of 310,602 individuals and 12,479 total CHD events including 5,882 CHD deaths.
Results showed that dietary linoleic acid intake is inversely associated with CHD risk in a dose-response manner-meaning, higher intake of linoleic acid resulted in a lower risk of CHD. Comparing the highest to the lowest level of consumption, dietary linoleic acid was associated with a 15 percent lower risk of CHD events and a 21 percent lower risk of CHD deaths. These results were independent of common coronary heart disease risk factors such as smoking and other dietary factors such as fiber consumption.
The authors said that in practice these findings support replacing butter, lard, and fat from red meat with liquid plant oils in cooking and at the table. Although not addressed in this analysis, trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils should be avoided, they add.
The study is published in the print issue of Circulation.