The primary dietary suggestion to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) at this time is to reduce saturated fatty acids (SFAs.) SFAs raise both total and LDL cholesterol. This article is about what to use to replace SFAs for energy.
Substitution of SFAs with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) results in a reduction of risk of CVD to the lowest risk of all.
SFAs should not be replaced with trans fatty acids (TFA) as an energy source. Trans fats are produced industrially. TFAs increase CVD risk more than do SFAs.
SFAs should not be replaced with refined carbohydrates as an energy source. The use of more refined carbohydrates results in increased triglycerides, reduced HDL cholesterol and no change or a slight increase in CVD risk. Replacing SFAs with low glycemic index carbohydrates results in a slight decrease in CVD risk. People who are thin and more active benefit more from the carbohydrate replacement than do people who are obese and inactive.
Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) of SFAs reduces LDL cholesterol, but, does not reduce risk of CVD.
The SFA content of specific foods cannot be the sole determination of CVD risk of that food without looking at calcium and protein content as well as other nutrients.
As the population has become more obese there may be a change in the replacement of SFAs with carbohydrates.
We don’t know if the current intake of SFAs has any connection with the risk of stroke and cancer.
CONCLUSION: “… the evidence from epidemiologic, clinical, and mechanistic studies is consistent in finding that the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced when saturated fatty acids (SFA) are replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids.” If the SFAs are replaced with carbohydrates “there might be a benefit if the carbohydrate is unrefined and has a low glycemic index.”
NOTE: Triglycerides are composed of three fatty acids. Fatty acids are divided into saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturation depends on the number of double bonds on the basic structure. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUSAs) have one double bond. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have two or more double bonds. PUFAs consist of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 (named for the location of the double bonds.)
The following are SFAs: cream, cheese, butter, ghee, suet, tallow, lard, fatty meats, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, chocolate, etc. Read about the health benefits of virgin cocout oil.
MUFAs are usually liquids at room temperature and solids when refrigerated. The following are MUFAs: fats in red meat, whole milk products, nuts, olives, avocados, macadamia nut oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, corn oil, etc. Olive oil is about 75% MUFA. Canola oil is 58% MUFA.
The following are PUFAs: fish oils, flax oils, etc. Omega-3 is high in fish and flax oils. Omega-6 is high in evening primrose oil, palm oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil.