Dietary fat -- the good and the bad

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 14, 2005

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The type of dietary fat consumed could be more important than total fat intake in reducing the risk of cardiovascular deaths, according to a study in the Jan. 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Polyunsaturated fat has been recommended for several decades in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, but few studies had offered scientific support for the advice.

In the new study, Finnish researchers found that men who consumed higher levels of polyunsaturated fats were up to three times less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than men who consumed less.

"Carrying out recommendations to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases may substantially decrease cardiovascular disease and, to a lesser degree, overall mortality," the researchers concluded.

A separate study in the same Archives issue found that consuming tuna or other broiled or baked fish is associated with a lower risk of stroke in the elderly, while eating fried fish or fish sandwiches is linked to a higher risk.

Researchers identified a trend of 14% lower stroke risk with a consumption of broiled or baked fish one to three times per month. Eating broiled or baked fish one to four times per week, or five or more times per week, was associated with a respective 28% and 32% lower risk of ischemic stroke.

But fried fish and fish sandwich consumption was associated with a 37% higher risk of all types of stroke and a 44% higher risk of ischemic stroke.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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