Here's good news for those of us who are rather partial to meat-heavy barbecues or nice rich cheeses: researchers have found that there is no clear link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
The findings, which were reached after an analysis of 21 past studies, contradict earlier conclusions about the risks involved with raising so called "bad" cholesterol, a result of consuming saturated fats, Reuters reported.
American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines suggest adults should get no more than 7 percent of their daily kilojoule intake from fat (which translates as just 16g of meat — not a hearty portion!), but the new study indicates that there is no proven link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
However, don't all run for the deli counter just yet. The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have been downplayed by a former AHA president.
"No-one is saying that some saturated fat is going to harm you," said Professor Robert H Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. "People should enjoy their food."
But, he added, many studies had shown that saturated fat still resulted in a rise in cholesterol and that doctors' advice on fat intake would not change in light of these findings.
Professor Eckel added that dietary thinking was moving away from concentrating on single nutritional elements towards more wide-ranging "dietary patterns".
What do you think? Do you have family members who have had high fat diets and lived to a ripe old age? Share your thoughts below.
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