Health

Do fatty foods cause heart problems?

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It's like it never happened. Despite the billions spent on low-fat foods and drinks and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, researchers have confirmed that full-fat milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter won't do you any harm. In fact, the foods can help protect against a stroke.

The latest research conclusively establishes that dairy fat doesn't increase the risk of heart disease—and certainly doesn't clog up our arteries. Despite the growing evidence, the latest dietary guidelines for Americans still recommends eating fat-free or low-fat foods.

 

But the advice isn't just unscientific, it's also dangerous, say the researchers from the University of Texas Science Center. Low-fat foods and drinks often contain added sugars that actually are harmful, and paradoxically can cause poor heart health.

The researchers monitored the level of fatty acids in a group of around 3,000 volunteers aged 65 years and over for 22 years. They discovered that high levels of 'bad' fatty acids—such as LDL cholesterol, which has been blamed as a cause of heart disease—didn't affect health or increase the rate of heart disease. In fact, the people with high levels of 'bad' fatty acids were 42 per cent less likely to die from stroke, suggesting that a fatty diet is protective.

Whole-fat dairy foods are "rich sources of nutrients such as calcium and potassium, and these are essential for health, not only during childhood but throughout life," said Marcia Otto, one of the researchers.

She said the research was "robust" and it "significantly strengthens the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults."

(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018; doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy117)

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