In 1983 the US and UK governments introduced dietary guidelines that suggested patients reduce their saturated fat consumption to 10% of total energy intake and their overall fat consumption to 30% of total energy intake. But research published in the journal Open Heart is showing evidence that maybe the government spoke too soon when they made those recommendations, as they didn’t have evidence from clinical trials to back their claims.

Researchers reviewed and conducted a meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials reported prior to 1983 that examined the reduction of coronary heart disease (CHD) through the reduction of fat intake. After evaluating the results of the six studies, researchers found the following limitations in their usefulness for developing the dietary guidelines:

  • Among the six studies, there was a total of 2,467 participants, all men
  • Only one of the trials took overall saturated fat recommendations into consideration
  • Five of the trials focused on secondary prevention of CHD
  • Of the participants, 740 died, 423 of these deaths from CHD
  • There were 370 deaths reported in both the treatment and the control group
  • There was an even number of deaths in the treatment group (370) compared to the control group (370)
  • Although treatment-group patients experienced a significant reduction in serum cholesterol compared with control-group patients, this did not have a significant impact on death rates from all causes

Although the dietary guidelines provided by the US and UK governments to reduce overall saturated fat and fat consumption are not necessarily backed up by supporting evidence that this will actually reduce the risk of CHD, it is still good advice to eat healthy and be careful about fat intake in your daily diet.

For more on heart disease:

Should You Have a Heart Scan?
Could Avoiding Wheat Help Your Heart?
10 Healthy Lifestyle Changes for Those Newly Diagnosed with Heart Disease