Top cardiologist: Saturated fats are good for you

Top cardiologist: Saturated fats are good for you

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

We've heard for decades that the key to lowering your risk of a heart attack is reducing your intake of saturated fats, but one well-respected cardiologist is calling foul, saying we have it all wrong. He says saturated fats are good for you.

Have you ever heard of the "French paradox?" The largest consumption of saturated fat in Europe is in France, yet the French have the lowest rates of heart disease.

One physician tells FOX 32 that it's no coincidence and that it's time to reverse most everything we've believed about saturated fats.

This might sound counterintuitive, but it may be time to bring the butter, cheese, eggs, and full fat yogurt back into a healthy diet.

"The demonization of saturated fat has contributed to the obesity epidemic," London-based Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra says.

And remember those truths we've held dear about heart disease prevention since the 70's?

"Since that time no study has proven the fact that directly links saturated fat to heart disease," he adds.

You heard right. Saturated fats are not the enemies we once believed they were, according to Dr. Malhotra. He says saturated fats from unprocessed foods are actually good for you.

"Studies have shown saturated fat from dairy, may well be protective for the heart," Dr. Malhotra tells FOX 32. "Vitamin A, D, E, K…they come from foods that have saturated fat."

Most registered dietitians like Melissa Dobbins warn their clients that saturated fat raises LDL, or bad cholesterol.

"So what happens when we eat saturated fat? It tells our liver to make more cholesterol which clogs our arteries," Dobbins counters.

But there is one detail that's often overlooked. In his article published in the British Medical Journal last month, Dr. Malhotra argues the war on saturated fat has not lowered risks of cardiovascular disease and the obesity rate has in fact, increased. The real culprits are refined carbohydrates and sugar.

"The food industry have promoted products that are marketed as low-fat and what they've done is replaced it with sugar and amounting scientific evidence is now telling us that sugar poses probably the greatest dietary threat to our health," says Malhotra.

He advises people to choose full fat rather than low fat yogurt, eat natural foods such as a steak over a hamburger, and avoid processed foods.

Not everyone is on board with Dr. Malhotra's call to end the war on saturated fat.

"It sounds like this researcher is a proponent of more saturated fat," registered dietitian Jean Alves argues. "I would be very worried if people thought it had no harmful effects.

"If we start to now vilify carbs and sugar we are going to end up on the other end of the spectrum," Dobbins says.

Dobbins says between butter and margarine, she tells her clients to choose the one with less saturated fat.

Dr. Malhotra also disagrees with the federal government's dietary guidelines

"I think the guidelines that say 30 % of calories should come from fat," Dr. Malhotra explains. "It's in fact not beneficial for health and has contributed to weight gain. We've seen the Swedes have reversed guideline consumed higher fat diet with lower in carbs."

One mantra everyone agrees on: everything in moderation.

Dr. Malhtora does not recommend eating too much of anything because too much saturated fat can be harmful.

He, and other dietitians FOX 32 spoke with believe the Mediterranean diet is one of the best out there. It includes fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts--like almonds and walnuts--and lots of fruits and vegetables.

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