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Why the WHO guidelines should be revised
An international team of researchers recently announced that the World Health Organization’s recommended guidelines on the intake of saturated fatty acids should be revised because they relate to nutrients and not food.
A recent study by the University of Newcastle found that current World Health Organization guidelines on saturated fat intake should be changed. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "BMJ".
What do the WHO guidelines say?
The draft guidelines published by the World Health Organization last year advise that the intake of saturated fatty acids (which are found in many animal products) be limited to less than ten percent of the total energy intake and that polyunsaturated fatty acids be used as a substitute if necessary. However, researchers at the University of Newcastle are of the opinion that the recommendations should refer to food and not to nutrients. Recent research shows that saturated fatty acids can take many forms and are not generally harmful.
Guidelines shouldn't just focus on individual nutrients
The research team believes that recommendations to reduce saturated fat intake without considering specific fatty acids and food sources are not based on scientific evidence and distract from other more effective food-based recommendations. The WHO guidelines are based on a decades-long approach to nutritional science that focuses on individual nutrients. However, food research in recent years has shown that concentrating on whole foods and nutrition is a better approach to health, the researchers conclude.
Not all saturated fatty acids are harmful to health
It is known that saturated fat is not a single nutrient. There are many saturated fats and their effects on our health are different. A general recommendation for saturated fatty acids is unsuitable here, because not all saturated fatty acids are harmful to health. Because so many countries base their nutritional advice on the recommendations of the WHO, it is particularly important that these are adapted to the latest findings, emphasizes the research team. Foods that are naturally rich in saturated fats are usually also rich in other nutrients. These foods provide a lot of essential nutrients and if we do not consume such foods, we do without them, which increases the risk of some chronic diseases.
The inclusion of whole foods is recommended
A focus on whole foods is an easier way for better and healthier nutritional recommendations. If people eat whole foods and unprocessed foods, it will have positive effects on the body. These foods do not metabolize quickly and do not cause harmful effects, the research team explains. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Arne Astrup, Hanne CS. Bertram, Jean-Philippe Bonjour, Lisette CP. de Groot, Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto et al .: WHO draft guidelines on dietary saturated and trans fatty acids: time for a new approach ?, in BMJ, BMJ