MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Daniel (Dong) Wang, MD, ScD, Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA 02115
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
: There has been widespread confusion in the biomedical community and the general public about the health effects of specific types of fat in the diet. In particular, the role of unsaturated fats vs. saturated fat in cardiovascular disease prevention remains controversial. Our study is by far the most detailed and powerful examination of this very important research topic, i.e., health effects of specific types of dietary fats, because of very large sample size (more than 120,000 men and women), repeated and validated measurements of diet and lifestyle over an extended follow-up (up to 32 years). In addition, our study is able to examine a much broader range of outcomes, including total mortality and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease.
We found that different types of dietary fat had different associations with mortality. Consuming higher amounts of unsaturated fats- mainly from plant-based foods like olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil and nuts - was associated with lower mortality, while higher consumption of saturated-found in red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream- and trans fats- predominantly from hydrogenated oils- was linked with higher mortality compared with the same number of calories from carbohydrates. Most importantly, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats conferred substantial health benefits, including lowering risk of all-cause premature death and premature death due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease.