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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Study Challenging Fatty Acids Link to Heart Disease May Push Senior to Chicken Fried Steak

Does not support guidelines restricting saturated fatty acid to reduce coronary risk, nor support high consumption of polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 or 6 to reduce heart disease.

By Tucker Sutherland, editor,

March 19, 2014 – The shifts and twists and turns of scientific research can sometimes make even the most serious health-conscious seniors want to throw all the multi-colored pills that we depend on to prevent heart problems and boost our longevity into the trash. Today it is a study telling us that we were wrong to avoid saturated fats, while favoring the polyunsaturated kind and to toss down fists full of fish oil pills with omega 3 fatty acid. We have published dozens of studies in saying just the opposite.

The apple cart has been turned over by a study from an “international research collaboration” gathered by the University of Cambridge to analyze data from 72 unique studies with over 600,000 participants from 18 nations that looked at coronary risk and fatty acid intake.

They report the evidence produced by all this research does not support guidelines to restrict the consumption of saturated fats in order to prevent heart disease. And, just to be sure they got our attention, they added that there is insufficient support for guidelines which advocate the high consumption of polyunsaturated fats (such as omega 3 and omega 6) to reduce the risk of coronary disease.


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Senior Citizens Need Diet High in Animal Protein Finds Two Studies: Better Function, Less Disease

Elderly improve their function physically, psychologically, and socially; second study says it helps seniors stay healthy

March 12, 2014

Live Longer: Don’t Eat Animal Proteins in Middle Age, Wait Until You are Senior Citizen

Middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources - including meat, milk and cheese - more susceptible to early death in general

March 5, 2014 – Okay, here is the latest research pointing the way to a longer life. Read more...

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Could Lead to Negative Health Effects If Taken in Excess

Studies have found Omega-3s are associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular disease outcomes

Oct. 28, 2013

Eating Fish, Nuts for Omega-3 May Not Help Improve Thinking Skills for Older Women After All

Unfortunately study did not find a protective effect in older women; most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect,

Sept. 25, 2013

Senior Citizens Live Years Longer by Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Fish

Risk of dying from heart disease significantly lowered: Seniors with highest blood levels of the fatty acids lived 2.2 years longer

April 2, 2013


Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements


They say when different types of omega 3 and other specific fatty acid types were studied, the effects on cardiovascular risk varied even within the same broad ‘family’ – questioning the existing dietary guidelines that focus principally on the total amount of fat from saturated or unsaturated rather than the food sources of the fatty acid subtypes.

These wildly contradictory results were published yesterday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Gates Cambridge Scholar Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the research at the University of Cambridge, said:

“These are interesting results that potentially stimulate new lines of scientific inquiry and encourage careful reappraisal of our current nutritional guidelines,” that’s what the lead author Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury had to say. He is described as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Clearly, he thinks he has done us a favor. He adds, “Cardiovascular disease, in which the principal manifestation is coronary heart disease, remains the single leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from a cardiovascular cause globally. With so many affected by this illness, it is critical to have appropriate prevention guidelines which are informed by the best available scientific evidence.”

The investigators found that total saturated fatty acid, whether measured in the diet or in the bloodstream as a biomarker, was not associated with coronary disease risk in the observational studies. Similarly, when analyzing the studies that involved assessments of the consumption of total monounsaturated fatty acids, long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, there were no significant associations between consumption and cardiovascular risk.

Interestingly, the investigators found that different subtypes of circulating long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids had different associations with coronary risk, with some evidence that circulating levels of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (two main types of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids), and arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fat) are each associated with lower coronary risk.

Similarly, within saturated fatty acid, the researchers found weak positive associations  between circulating palmitic and stearic acids (found largely in palm oil and animal fats, respectively) and cardiovascular disease, whereas circulating margaric acid (a dairy fat)  significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, when the authors investigated the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplementations on reducing coronary disease in the randomized controlled trials, they did not find any significant effects – indicating a lack of benefit from these nutrients, they report.

And, just to throw fuel on the fire he has started, and remind me of all the sizzling, juicy steaks I have passed up in recent years, Chowdhury added that it is not even the saturated fat in red meat that is harmful.

 “Last year, two seminal papers very convincingly showed that the harm observed in red meat for heart disease risk can, in fact, be attributed to another harmful chemical (L-carnitine) abundant in red meat, rather than the long-supposed saturated fat,” he writes.

He makes me feel not quite so foolish by adding, “Unless we have more evidence, higher consumption of red meat should still be considered harmful, but it’s just that the saturates may not be the principal explanation, as is traditionally perceived, for the harmful cardiovascular effects of red meat.”

This study, like all the others, ends with a disclaimer by a spokesman for the British Heart Foundation, which helped pay for the study.

“This analysis of existing data suggests there isn’t enough evidence to say that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fats reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. But large scale clinical studies are needed, as these researchers recommend, before making a conclusive judgment,” says Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at BHF.

But, then Professor Pearson adds a closing thought that has me puzzled. He says, “Alongside taking any necessary medication, the best way to stay heart healthy is to stop smoking, stay active, and ensure our whole diet is healthy – and this means considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.”

“Ensure our whole diet is healthy,” he says. I thought I was doing that by following the advice from study-after-study telling me that a healthy diet was to avoid saturated fats, while favoring the polyunsaturated, and consuming as much fish oil as I could stomach.

There is a contest going on in my hometown to find the restaurant that serves the best chicken fried steak. I think I may just join the search!

>> For updates and comments on original news release.

More Links to Archived Stories about Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Seniors See 35% Reduction in Cardiovascular Death Risk from Eating Heart Healthy Diet

AHA Heart Healthy diet offers significant protection for older people with cardiovascular problems from recurring attacks

Dec. 6, 2012

Fish Oil Helps Heal Bed Sores of the Critically Ill

Tel Aviv University research finds a 20-25 percent reduction in pressure ulcers with a fish oil enriched diet; maybe it has a role in general pain management, too

Dec. 4, 2012

Eating Oily Fish Weekly Defends Against Stroke; Supplements Less Effective

Results from use of long chain omega 3 fatty acid came from 38 studies involving nearly 800,000 individuals in 15 countries

Oct. 31, 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Does Not  Lower Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events

‘Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice’ for cardiovascular protection, says large review of published studies

Sept. 11, 2011

Cognitive Decline in Seniors Not Slowed by Omega-3 Fish Oil in Short Term

But researchers say longer term effects of omega-3 on cognitive decline and dementia need to be explored; urge seniors continue eating fish regularly

July 10, 2012

Seniors May Find Relief for Spine Damage with Omega-3, Curry Spice Diet

Diet minimized disease-related changes and repaired damage to the spinal cord of UCLA lab rats – preserved walking - June 26, 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Fish Oil Lowers Inflammation in Overweight Older People

New study adds another check mark for fish oil as an effective defender against illness

June 20, 2012

Aging Brains May Stay Sharp, Avoid Shrinkage, Alzheimer's with Proper Diet

Good choices Bs, C, D, E & omega 3; also diets high in trans fats more likely to produce brain shrinkage, lower scores on thinking, memory

Jan. 4, 2012

Eating Baked, Broiled Fish Wards Off Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior citizens  nearing danger zone of cognitive problems should eat fish weekly

Dec. 6, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements Appear to Help Older People Think Better, Save Brains

There was clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume

Aug. 17, 2011

Omega-3 Fish Oil Does Not Slow Cognitive or Functional Decline in Alzheimer's Disease

New study indicates DHA supplement not useful for those with mild to moderate AD - watch JAMA video - Nov. 3, 2010

Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.comMy Aching Knees Seemed to Be Cured by Omega-3, New Study Says It May Be True

UK researchers find omega-3 fatty acids slow down osteoarthritis, at least in guinea pigs; I think it worked for me!

By Tucker Sutherland, editor,

Oct. 17, 2011 – As an active – well very active – tennis player for many years, when I turned 70 I was worried my playing days might end due to my aching knees. I never took the court without wearing the latest in knee protection devices. Then, shortly after I increased my daily regimen of fish oil pills, the knee pain disappeared. I was convinced my joints were now better “oiled.” New research says there may be something to this. Read more...

Related Archive Stories

A number of studies have now linked Omega-3 with reducing the risk of AMD - major cause of blindness in senior citizens

Women Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Fish, Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Women who ate the most fish did the best at reducing the risk of this leading cause of blindness in senior citizens - March 15, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements Appear to Help Older People Think Better, Save Brains

There was clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume

Aug. 17, 2011

High Level of Omega-3 in Blood of Older Men Hikes Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Study leader says beneficial effects of eating fish to prevent heart disease still outweigh any harm related to prostate cancer risk - April 25, 2011

Women Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Fish, Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Women who ate the most fish did the best at reducing the risk of this leading cause of blindness in senior citizens

March 15, 2011


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