Getty: Russ Rohde

The World Health Organization is overhauling their nutritional recommendations and may drastically reduce their saturated fat guidelines.

Zee Krstic
May 08, 2018

The World Health Organization, or WHO, are updating nutritional guidelines on sodium, potassium and sugar consumption, and are also now developing nutritional guidelines on saturated fat intake.

According to the proposal, saturated fats, which can naturally be found in beef, butter, cheese, chocolate, whole milk, palm oil, and yes, coconut oil, shouldn't exceed more than 10 percent of an adult or child's total daily intake of calories.

The WHO isn't the first to warn about saturated fats—the American Heart Association updated their guidelines almost a year ago with similar recommendations.

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From now until June 1, 2018, the public is able to comment on the World Health Organization's suggested updates right here—and the organization will also undergo a consultation from an external, unaffiliated group of experts. Later this year, the WHO Guidelines Review Committee will review all input and make a final decision before releasing official guidelines. We'll update this story should any changes to their proposal be made after the review period.

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And the WHO's guidelines aren't too far off from what the health industry has already heard from other experts: 10 percent or under of total daily calories coming from saturated fat is nearly the same recommendation made within the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

After a controversial study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine back in 2014, claimed that cutting back on saturated fat was not linked to a reduced chance of heart disease, lots of dieters were led to believe that saturated fats weren't as bad as they'd once thought.

But other pieces of published research highlights how saturated and trans fats increase heart attack risks by increasing levels of LDL cholesterol, known as the "bad" cholesterol by many knowledgeable home cooks. Previously, Cooking Light's Nutrition Director Brierley Horton, MS, RD, explained why LDL cholesterol can be harmful for you, and also addresses why it's important to replace saturated fats with more heart-healthy fats instead.

Kelsey Hansen

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The WHO's proposal advises home cooks to replace saturated fats with healthy fats, polyunsaturated fats in particular, that are found in healthy staples like fish, walnuts, and vegetable oils. The organization points out that monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olive oils aren't as strong of a preventative agent against LDL cholesterol as polyunsaturated fats—but are still a solid option.

What are some of the ways you can avoid saturated fats every day, you might ask? Make educated swaps: Choose low-fat options of milk, lean cuts of beef, and lean towards vegetable or olive oils over ample use of butter and coconut oil. And for those who are enjoying a balanced, wholesome diet incorporating whole foods versus pre-packaged, processed products, you're already off to an amazing start.

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