The Kind Of Fat That Causes Heart Disease And High Risk Of Early Death

Current dietary advice about eating fat is wrong.

Saturated fats such as butter are not linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke, new research finds.

This runs contrary to current dietary advice.

Trans fats such as margarine, though, can increase the risk of early death and heart disease, the research also found.

Good sources of saturated fat include:

  • red meat,
  • salmon,
  • cow’s milk,
  • butter,
  • egg yolks,
  • and some plant products such as palm oils and chocolate.

Common sources of trans fats include:

  • snack foods,
  • margarine,
  • and packaged baked foods.

Dr Russell de Souza, the lead author of this study, explained:

“For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats.

Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear.

That said, we aren’t advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines, as we don’t see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health.”

To make these controversies clear of doubt Dr Russell de Souza and colleagues analysed 50 observational studies looking at the link between trans fats and saturated fats and health outcomes in adults.


The team found eating foods containing trans fats was related to increased risks of around one-third for heart disease.

On the other hand, they didn’t find any clear association between higher consumption of saturated fats and heart disease.

Dr de Souza said:

“If we tell people to eat less saturated or trans fats, we need to offer a better choice.

Unfortunately, in our review we were not able to find as much evidence as we would have liked for a best replacement choice, but ours and other studies suggest replacing foods high in these fats, such as high-fat or processed meats and donuts, with vegetable oils, nuts, and whole grains.”

The study was published in the journal BMJ (de Souza et al., 2015).

Fats image from Shutterstock