Dr. Pramod Khosla’s presentation on the myths about saturated fat and heart disease during Palm Oil Nutrition Week prompted holistic pharmacist and author Sherry Torkos to ask him for more information on how people can support their heart health through dietary changes. Saturated fat is not the enemy we once thought it was.

Scientific thinking has evolved, and there are compelling studies showing that there is little if any association between saturated fat and the end stages of heart disease, including death. Dr. Khosla compares analyzing one’s diet to performing a risk analysis, adding that “saturated fat may not be something that has such a high [negative] impact.”

The same can’t be said for trans fat, which Dr. Khosla advises people to still avoid. Research has clearly connected it to heart disease “whether you look at end points [or] you look at bio-markers,” he confirms. Many American – and now Canadian – food manufacturers are trying to reformulate their products to replace trans fat, often with cholesterol-neutral palm fruit oil.

Dr. Khosla also cautions against eating too many refined carbohydrates. “Refined carbohydrates do impact cholesterol so they do impact heart disease,” he clarifies. Because people sometimes eat more carbs when avoiding fats, a high-glycemic diet is more likely to increase the risk of heart disease than a diet high in saturated fat. “It’s not that saturated fat is benign. But maybe we need to shift the focus to something else.”

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