Dutch Health Council: choose soft fats and vegetable oils

Posted on: November 12, 2015

Replace butter, solid margarine and solid cooking products by soft margarine , liquid cooking products and vegetable oils. That is one of the recommendations of the Dutch Health Council to eat healthy. The Health Council of the Netherlands, an independent scientific body that advises the government, recommends which foods and patterns lead to health gains. To this end, the Council has systematically evaluated the scientific knowledge about the relationship between nutrition and chronic diseases.

New is that the Health Council advises on the health effects of foods rather than nutrients. This makes it easier for consumers to make healthy choices. The Health Council provides 16 clear and practical guidelines for health benefits, including the advice to eat more vegetable and less animal products. The latter is not only better for your health, but also more sustainable. Also new is that one portion of fish per week is considered enough, and that it is recommended to eat a handful of nuts every day.

No SAFA limit
There is no limit defined for the amount of saturated fat in a healthy diet. Instead of a limit the Health Council gives advice focusing on food replacement (replace butter and hard margarines with soft and liquid margarines). Also lacks a standard for trans fatty acids. The Health Council finds it unnecessary to make a recommendation for trans fatty acids, because the intake in the Netherlands is very low already. However, the Council states it is important that it remains low, because the consumption of trans fatty acids is associated with an increased risk of cardio vascular diseases.

Saturard versus unsaturated
The Health Coursil indicates that it has been shown conclusively that foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as soft margarines or vegetable oils, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease compared to foods rich in saturated fatty acids, such as butter and hard margarines. In the past, the emphasis in the research on the replacement of saturated fat laid by the multiply unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid. The present data also relate to monounsaturated fatty acids.

Dietary patterns
More vegetable and less animal diets have positive health effects, says the Health Council. The guidelines show that vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and vegetable fats and oils have a protective effect on the risk of chronic diseases, and that processed and red meat is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases.

Click here for the Guidelines (in Dutch)

Palm oil and health
On average, palm oil has almost equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Coconut oil, butter, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter and tallow have higher proportions of saturated fatty acids. For more information on the role of palm oil in a healthy diet click here.