HPB should review stance on saturated fat

Those unable to pay rent were paid a salary to operate the stall until they were able to take over.

I was surprised by the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) move to spend millions a year on subsidies to encourage eateries to replace palm oil with a "healthier" mix of palm and canola oil ("Oil subsidies to promote healthier fare at food joints"; July 14).

The long-held belief that saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease has, in recent years, been debunked by a number of published studies.

In 2010, Harvard Medical School published a landmark meta-analysis study involving data on nearly 350,000 subjects.

It showed that saturated fat does not increase the risk of heart disease.

Four years later, researchers at the University of Cambridge published an even more extensive meta-analysis involving data on over 600,000 subjects from 18 nations.

The results concurred with those of the Harvard study. In fact, it even discovered that some forms of saturated fat actually protect against heart disease.

In March this year, new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine also found that people who ate more saturated fat did not have a higher risk of heart disease ("Saturated fat 'does not increase heart risks' "; March 19).

Interestingly, some forms of saturated fat, such as coconut oil, actually protect against heart disease.

Studies have shown that coconut oil raises the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, and therefore reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In the light of these findings, I urge the HPB to review its stance on saturated fat.

The focus should be on eliminating partially hydrogenated oils that contain hazardous trans fat.

Jose Mari P. Cruz

This article was published on Aug 11 in The Straits Times.

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