Most of us are aware of the health message that we should lower our saturated-fat intake to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease.
We’ve learned how to choose reduced-fat dairy foods and to trim visible white fat from our meat, which has also been good for our hearts.
Even full-fat dairy foods may do our hearts no harm, according to Harvard University researcher Marcia de Oliveira Otto, though she does acknowledge that there may be other risks. After studying the effects of diet on heart health for more than a decade, she not only concluded that there was no evidence that dairy foods could cause cardiovascular disease, but also found a link between cheese consumption and a reduced risk of heart disease. Why? Well, the beneficial effect of cheese seems to be related to the whole food, not just the calcium. But for now, de Oliveira Otto warns that more evidence is required, and that it’s too early to think about changing the current guidelines that urge people to opt for reduced-fat dairy products.
In fact, the connection between saturated fat and health is a bit of a grey area, as it may depend on either the specific types of saturated fats in different foods or on other nutrients in the foods that contain these saturated fats.
And Professor Manohar Garg, from The University of Newcastle, proposes yet another theory: He says that high dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids could limit the negative impact of saturated fats on our health. Some animal studies support his theory, but we need much more evidence to understand its relevance to human beings. Until we learn a lot more about these theories, the safest move for your heart health is to continue to use reduced-fat dairy.