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Despite the hype, the simple answer is, "Not really." Taking all the study’s findings into account hardly adds up to an open invitation to step up saturated fats:
In other words, the findings do not indicate that saturated fats are a good part of heart health or healthy weight—they were neutral. Despite being largely ignored, by far the most important takeaway is avoiding trans fats and emphasizing the omega-3 fats.
The importance of omega-3s was further highlighted by another meta-analysis on fats and health—also published last week, though to much less fanfare. This analysis, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at 70 randomized controlled trials and the findings strongly demonstrated that omega-3 fats from fortified foods and supplements significantly reduce high blood pressure risk, a major contributor to heart disease.
So, what are the “best” fats to support a healthy heart and weight?
Also, when looking to make fat a healthy part of your diet—especially if weight-management is your goal—don't overlook the importance of how you prepare it. Study findings also published in the British Medical Journal demonstrate that fried, fatty foods may be particularly harmful for those at highest genetic risk for obesity. Considering genes and fried food together in 37,000 people, researchers found each of these factors may intensify the harm of the other. (In other words, the heaviest in the group had both the genes, and the high-fat diet contributing to their weight woes.)
So, the fats you choose matter, and—whether or not you have the gene that makes you more at risk for obesity—avoiding fried food makes sense. However, according to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health, the take home message on fats and health is to move away from a single-nutrient focus. Instead, build your diet around a variety of unprocessed, whole foods, including nuts, legumes (beans and peas), vegetables and fruit, whole grains, fish, vegetable and olive oils, and small portions of animal products, as desired.