Q. I was very interested in the May 2023 Heart Letter feature about Dr. Ludwig's research, which suggests that eating fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fat can help with weight loss and lead to better health outcomes. But his menus and recipes include foods that contain saturated fat, such as meat and full-fat dairy products. For many years, we heard from reputable sources that we should aways limit saturated fat. This is very confusing! Can you explain?
A. You're right about advice to limit saturated fat in your diet, which stems from the fact that eating too much saturated fat tends to raise levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. But not everyone agrees on what the limit should be. The American Heart Association advises a limit of 5% to 6% of your daily calories, while the Dietary Guidelines for Americans says 10% is fine. Registered dietitian Kathy McManus, who directs the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, suggests a happy medium of 7%. That happens to be the typical amount of saturated fat in the heart-friendly Mediterranean-style diet.
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About the Author
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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