A Reprieve For Saturated Fat? The New Healthy Diet

Saturated fats. For decades, they’ve been taboo. Now new research is raising questions with them. A big look, with Mark Bittman and more.

This photo taken Sunday May 17, 2009 shows a Blue Cheeseburger with Fried Pickled Onions. A new study suggests that saturated fats are not as harmful as they were once considered to be. (AP)

This photo taken Sunday May 17, 2009 shows a Blue Cheeseburger with Fried Pickled Onions. A new study suggests that saturated fats are not as harmful as they were once considered to be. (AP)

For years we were told “cut the fat, cut the fat.”  Especially the saturated fat.  “Fat free” was the label that sold.  Now comes a big new study with a more nuanced message.  A little butter won’t kill you.  Saturated fat is not the dietary third rail for heart disease.  Don’t roll in it.  Don’t go crazy.  Pay attention to your whole diet, with lots of plants in there.  Stay clear of trans-fats.  Watch out for sugar and processed food.  But the new meta-study found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart disease.  This hour On Point:  we’re taking on board the latest findings on fat.

– Tom Ashbrook


Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Co-director of the program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Co-author of the new study in Annals of Internal Medicine that calls into question many concerns about saturated fats.

Dr. Stephanie Coulter, cardiologist and director of the Texas Heart Institute’s Center for Women’s Heart and Vascular Health.

Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times. (@bittman)

Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. (DrDavidKatz)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Butter is Back – “Butter is back, and when you’re looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew, you can resume searching for the best pieces — the ones with the most fat. Eventually, your friends will stop glaring at you as if you’re trying to kill them.”

The Economist: Fat chance –“Other common beliefs, however, were not supported. They found no evidence that eating saturated fats or having high levels of circulating saturated fatty acids (the digested products of such fats) had any effect on cardiac disease. Nor did they find that omega-3 fatty acids, the current poster-boys of healthy eating, protect against heart disease.”

NPR: Why We Got Fatter During The Fat-Free Food Boom — “By the early ’90s, foods with little or no fat were flying off the shelves. Pretzels were good (no fat); nuts were bad (loaded with fat). Baked potatoes were OK, but hold the sour cream. And salads? Sure, greens are great, but no oily salad dressing.”

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