Animal Fat Consumption Linked to Premature Death

New research from the American Heart Association finds that while consuming fats from plant sources is beneficial, the consumption of animal-based fats increases the risk of death from heart disease by 21 percent.


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A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018 found that the consumption of animal-based monounsaturated fats—particularly those from dairy, fish, eggs, poultry, and red meat—increased the risk of premature death. Researchers studied the self-reported dietary habits of 63,412 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 29,966 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study during an average of 22 years, and recorded 20,672 deaths among the participants, 4,588 of which came from heart disease. The study identified that participants who consumed monounsaturated fats from animal sources had a 21-percent higher risk of death, while those who consumed the highest amount of monounsaturated fats from plant sources had a 16-percent decreased risk of death from any cause. Researchers found that replacing animal fats with those derived from plants reduced the risk of premature death by 10 to 15 percent. “Our results emphasize the importance of the source and quantity of monounsaturated fatty acids in the diet,” study co-lead author Marta Guasch-Ferré, PhD, said. “We should eat more monounsaturated fatty acids from plant sources and less monounsaturated fatty acids from animal sources.” Last year, a separate study published in The Journal of the American Heart Association found that plant-based sources of protein improved the three main cholesterol markers for heart-disease prevention.