The World Health Organization or WHO recently made nutritional recommendations to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of non-communicable deaths in the world.

Proposed WHO guidelines for fat intake

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The World Health Organization or WHO recently made nutritional recommendations to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of non-communicable deaths in the world. Approximately one-third of all of the 54.7 million deaths in the world are attributable to cardiovascular disease. Their suggestions mirror those from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association. 

These are the primary modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

  • Unhealthy food choices
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Inactive lifestyle

The WHO has proposed guidelines for the two types of fat most closely connected to increased cardiovascular disease risk: 

  • Saturated fats: 10% of daily calories or less
  • Trans fats: 1% of daily calories or less

What do those proposed fat guidelines translate to?

  • Saturated fats: 10-25 grams per day
  • Trans fats: 0-2 grams per day 

It does not matter where in the world that we live. It pays to eat well with fresh less processed foods, walk every day, limit alcohol and avoid tobacco completely. 

The type of fats, though, seems to have particular impact on the health of arteries. Saturated fats are found in whole milk, cream, high fat cheeses and butter, as well as fatty meats and chicken skin. You’ll also find it in palm and coconut oils, chocolate and cocoa butter. For example, 1 tablespoon coconut oil has 12 g saturated fat, 1 3-ounce hamburger has between 7-10 g saturated fat,  1 tablespoon butter has 7 g saturated fat and 1 slice of cheese has 6 g saturated fat. It can add up quickly. 

Any food that has some amount of partially hydrogenated fat or oil will contain some trans fat content. The good news is that the amount of both saturated fats and trans fats must be clearly stated on the nutrition facts label of all foods so that you can make the best choice.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.