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Consuming greater amounts of unsaturated fats is associated with lower mortality, according to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In a large study population followed for more than three decades, researchers found that greater consumption of saturated and trans fats was linked with higher mortality rates than consuming the same number of calories from carbohydrates. Most importantly, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats conferred substantial health benefits. This study provides further support for the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that emphasize the types of fat rather than total amount of fat in the diet.

The study is the most detailed and powerful examination to date of how dietary fats impact health. It suggests that replacing saturated fats like butter, lard, and fat from red meat with unsaturated fats from plants — such as olive, canola, and soybean oils — can confer substantial health benefits and should continue to be a key message in dietary recommendations.

The study will be published online today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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