Washington, D.C.—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a statement regarding a study that found a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats does not provide heart health benefits.

The researchers of the meta-analysis study, “Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, collected data from 72 studies on coronary risk and dietary fat intake in over 600,000 participants. They concluded that total saturated fatty acid was not associated with heart disease risk; also, they found no significant effect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on reduction of coronary disease risk.

Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president of CRN, released a statement in which he criticized the “potentially irresponsible” viewpoint of the study, which leaves consumers “subject to nutritional guidance whiplash.” He explains that thousands of studies, the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a diet high in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats and void of trans-fats. He specifically points out that “scientific literature contains so many studies that point to benefit for omega-3 fatty acids,” a type of polyunsaturated fat.

Though MacKay applauds the wide range of research, including biomarker studies and observational studies, mentioned in the meta-analysis, he finds a flaw in the report: “The results are subject to the researcher-imposed criteria for number crunching,” MacKay states. He believes that “even with those limitations, the results trended toward benefit for omega-3 fatty acids.” While there is no certainty as to whether one will develop heart disease, MacKay says, he suggests that people make smart choices to reduce risk, such as exercising regularly and eating a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3s.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2014