Seven Reasons to Keep Saturated Fat Off Your Plate

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

Guest blog by by Meghan Jardine, M.S., M.B.A., R.D., L.D., C.D.E. Dangerous and confusing misinformation is leading many Americans to consume too much saturated fat, which is positively associated with heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death in America. Here are seven reasons to keep foods high in saturated fat – such as butter, cheese, meat, chicken and eggs – off your plate. 1. A single meal high in saturated fat has an immediate effect on blood vessels, causing inflammation, oxidative stress and arterial stiffness. This can last up to 6 hours. 2. According to a study published in Diabetes Care, saturated fat increases the risk of nonalcoholic liver disease and diabetes. 3. Women who consume red meat and processed meat, which are high in saturated fat, have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. High-fat dairy is also associated with cancer recurrence and early mortality in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. 4. Saturated fat and trans fat (also found in animal products) increases abdominal obesity, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. 5. Diets high in saturated fat increase the risk of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 6. Numerous reports show that consuming foods high in saturated fat significantly increase type 2 diabetes risk. 7. People who consume low amounts of saturated fat and follow a vegetarian or vegan eating pattern may live up to 10 years longer. The good news is that a plant-based diet is a healthy and delicious way to avoid saturated fat and chronic disease. Populations around the world where diets are low in saturated fat and cholesterol also have very low rates of coronary artery disease. A low-fat plant-based diet is the only eating pattern that has demonstrated a reduction in blocked coronary arteries in 91% of patients studied. And several intervention studies with a plant-based diet have demonstrated significant improvements of type 2 diabetes, with some patients getting off all medications, including insulin. Don’t be confused by false claims from industry sources that “fat is back.’’ Pay attention to the majority of studies that demonstrate a diet high in plant-based foods and low in saturated fat is the key to good health. Meghan Jardine, M.S., M.B.A., R.D., L.D., C.D.E., is the associate director of diabetes nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C. –based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventative medicine, especially better nutrition, and higher standards in research. As a diabetes educator and nutritionist, Mrs. Jardine works to develop programs to educate physicians, health care professionals, and the public about nutrition as preventative medicine and the health benefits of plant-based diets. One of her favorite topics to research and discuss is the link between diet and a healthy microbiome. Mrs. Jardine is also the leader of Plant-Based Nutrition for Diabetes with the American Association of Diabetes Educators, where she teaches other diabetes educators about plant-based nutrition through blogs and online discussions. Photo from here, with thanks.