Saturated fat is not the major issue
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Indeed, recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk.5 Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective. The source of the saturated fat may be important. Dairy foods are exemplary providers of vitamins A and D. As well as a link between vitamin D deficiency and a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular mortality, calcium and phosphorus found commonly in dairy foods may have antihypertensive effects that may contribute to inverse associations with cardiovascular risk.6 7 8 One study showed that higher concentrations of plasma trans-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid mainly found in dairy foods, was associated with higher concentrations of high density lipoprotein, lower concentrations of triglycerides and C reactive protein, reduced insulin resistance, and a lower incidence of diabetes in adults.9 Red meat is another major source of saturated fat. Consumption of processed meats, but not red meat, has been associated with coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus, which may be explained by nitrates and sodium as preservatives.10
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A recent “real world” study of 150 000 patients who were taking statins showed “unacceptable” side effects—including myalgia, gastrointestinal upset, sleep and memory disturbance, and erectile dysfunction—in 20% of participants, resulting in discontinuation of the drug.19 This is massively at odds with the major statin trials that report significant side effects of myopathy or muscle pain in only one in 10 000.