Aim: This review aims to reassess the role of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in the diet in light of recent evidence which shows that consumption of SFAs is probably safer than previously thought.
Background: SFAs are an integral component of dietary fat. The association between SFAs and non-communicable diseases has been studied and debated for decades. The belief about the adverse effects of SFAs has been challenged by some recent studies and meta-analyses which depicted that consumption of carbohydrates rather than SFAs is possibly the main culprit for the causation of noncommunicable diseases. This has raised the need for reassessment of dietary guidelines for saturated fat consumption.
Review results: There is no consensus on incriminating SFAs for ill health. Some studies have shown adverse effects of SFA on health whereas other studies have failed to do so. Recent analysis suggests that there is no association of SFA consumption with an increased incidence of non-communicable diseases. However, consumption of trans fats, especially the industrially derived ones, is associated with the adverse outcomes.
Conclusion: Recent advanced statistical techniques, large scale meta-analysis and interventional trials on specific SFAs on disease outcome have been changing the concept and understanding over the last few years. It has well been understood that replacing carbohydrates for SFAs has been associated with more adverse outcome. Recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses have disproved the older concept about the deleterious effects of SFAs.
Clinical significance: Consumption of SFAs is probably safe. The intake of industrialized fats, trans fats, and red meat should be limited.
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