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Substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats may reduce heart disease risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health provides the first definitive evidence that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats may decrease one's risk of heart disease.

In the study, lead author Dariush Mozaffarian and his colleagues performed a comprehensive review of eight randomized trials in which participants replaced their saturated fat consumption with foods high in polyunsaturated fat. The systematic review included 13,614 respondents who suffered a total of 1,042 coronary heart disease events.

After concluding their analysis of the trials, the research team found that participants who increased polyunsaturated fat consumption as a replacement for saturated fat experienced a 19 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who did not make the switch.

Specifically, for every 5 percent increase in polyunsaturated fat consumption, coronary heart disease risk was reduced by 10 percent.

"The specific replacement nutrient for saturated fat may be very important," said Mozaffarian, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at HSPH. "Our findings suggest that polyunsaturated fats would be a preferred replacement for saturated fats for better heart health."

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