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JAMA Patient Page
May 3, 2016

Dietary Guidelines for Americans—Eat Less Saturated Fat

JAMA. 2016;315(17):1919-1920. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0972

New US dietary guidelines have been designed to help Americans choose and maintain a healthy diet.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans were created by the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture and were updated in 2016. The guidelines are intended to help Americans make healthier food and beverage choices. This is important because 2 of every 3 Americans are either overweight or obese, and obesity is one of the most important causes of preventable diseases like heart attack and stroke. A summary of these guidelines was published in the February 2, 2016, issue of JAMA.

Saturated fats are found in red meat, sausage, and bacon; butter; pastries; and full-fat dairy products; they tend to be solid at room temperature. Diets high in saturated fats can raise total and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol. When cholesterol is too high, risk of developing heart disease increases. Research suggests that by replacing sources of saturated fat such as red meat with sources of unsaturated, heart-healthy fats like fish and olive oil, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.