Harvard Health Letter

Nutrition: Conversation with an expert

Dr. Walter C. Willett is chair of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health, a lead investigator for the Nurses' Health Study, and a member of our editorial board. His book, co-written with Dr. Jorge Chavarro and Patrick Skerrett, is The Fertility Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2008).

A reader asked us whether he should switch from olive to canola oil because it has less saturated fat. What do you think?

Olive, canola, sunflower, corn oil — they're all pretty low in saturated fat. Besides, saturated fat isn't the terrible poison that some have made it out to be. In fact, if you compare diets high in saturated fat with those high in carbohydrates, it's about a wash as far as their effects on LDL-to-HDL cholesterol levels, the ratio that best predicts risk of heart disease.

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