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Replacing Saturated Animal Fat with Vegetable Oils may not Protect Heart

Update Date: Feb 06, 2013 03:57 AM EST
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Giving up saturated animal fats like butter and margarines to accommodate the more "healthier" vegetable oils in diet may not be as healthy as considered. A new study has found that these vegetable oils are linked to an increased risk of death in people who already have a heart-related disease.

Vegetables oils are considered as good for the heart because they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), more specifically, omega-6 linoleic acid. According to Medline Plus, saturated fats increase levels of LDL or bad fats in the body and so raise a person's chances of heart disease and stroke. Ideally, only 10 percent of a person's daily energy must come from saturated fats in the diet.

However, a new study based on old data shows that replacing saturated oils from the diet may not be as healthy as considered.

"Our understanding of the effect of different fats on the heart develops all the time as research into this complex issue is published. Replacing saturated fats with ­unsaturated alternatives is a well-known recommendation for your heart which is based on many large and in-depth studies," said Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, reports express.co.uk. "However, this research highlights the need for us to further understand how different unsaturated fats affect our risk of heart disease."

The study was based on health records obtained from more than 450 men between the ages 30 and 59. All the study participants had a recent heart-related event like a heart attack or an angina.

Researchers divided the study participants into two groups; the first group was asked to reduce their saturated fat intake and limit it to less than 10 percent of daily requirement and increase consumption of safflower oil and safflower polyunsaturated margarine, which is considered to be good for the heart.

The second group was the control group and wasn't given any advice on reducing saturated animal fat intake. Both the groups maintained food diaries and underwent regular health checkups.

Study results showed that the control group was in better health, while the study group that increased the vegetable oil intake had a higher risk of dying from heart diseases.

Professor Philip Calder from the University of Southampton wrote in an accompanying editorial that the latest study comes at a time when there is a considerable debate over the use of vegetable oils. He added that the new study challenges the "saturated fat bad, omega 6 PUFA good" dogma and shows that the guidelines about replacing saturated fats in diet may not be based on scientific evidence.

The study is published in the journal BMJ.

Taylor adds that overusing any kind of oil may be bad for health.

"Whichever fats you use it's important to be sparing with them. Try to grill, bake, or steam your food, rather than frying. Measuring out oils instead of pouring straight from the bottle is another good way of making sure you're not overdoing it," Taylor told express.co.uk.

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