Glen Lawrence, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Long Island University, has written a categorical review of the existing research on dietary fats and their impact on health markers and health itself. Published in Advances in Nutrition, Lawrence wonders in print just how saturated fats attracted such bad press. Blamed for increasing the risks of coronary artery disease and premature death, they have been villified and continue to be avoided by many health conscious folks. Poring over decades of data exploring saturated fats effect on the minute and grand aspects of health, he concludes that saturated fats "are benign with regard to inflammatory effects", exerting little to no influence on cholesterol levels, and failing to promote any of the conditions previously associated with them.
On the other hand, compounds produced when polyunsaturated fats or sugars (especially fructose) are damaged (as is easily done with heat and food processing) are "known to initiate or augment several diseases", including cardiovascular, metabolic, inflammatory and malignant diseases. Many times foods containing these damaged components are associated with saturated fats (think french fries served with that cheeseburger), but when separated in research situations, it is the sugars and polyunsaturated fats that wield the greatest potential harm.
Ironically our avoidance of saturated fat has greatly increased our consumption of polyunsaturated fats and sugars, both adding flavor to food that would be unpalatable with the saturated fat removed. Lawrence calls for a revision of the dietary recommendations that would reflect the current state of science, free of historical bias.
Thank you Dr. Lawrence.