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Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease – Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan 13, 2010

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[Note: Saturated fats are naturally occurring fatty acids found in dairy products, animal fats, fatty meat, dark chocolate, and coconut, cottonseed, & palm kernel oils.]

Background: A reduction in dietary saturated fat has generally been thought to improve cardiovascular health.

Objective: The objective of this meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD; CHD inclusive of stroke) in prospective epidemiologic studies.

Design: Twenty-one studies identified by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and secondary referencing qualified for inclusion in this study. A random-effects model was used to derive composite relative risk estimates for CHD, stroke, and CVD.

• During 5 to 23 years of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, 11,006 developed CHD or stroke.

• Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD. The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22) for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD. [Note: the relative risk of 1.0 for CVD represents no difference in risk between highest and lowest saturated fat intake quartiles.]

• Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not change the results.


• 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.

• More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan 13, 2010. PMID: 20071648, by Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Krauss RM. Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. [E-mail: rkrauss@chori.org]

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