Position paper of the Spanish Federation of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics Societies: no upper limit on fat intake

Posted on: November 03, 2015

The Spanish Federation of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics Societies published a position paper on fat, in which the scientific evidence relating effects of dietary fat quantity and quality on cardiovascular risk is reviewed and recommendations for the Spanish adult population are issued.

As a novelty in nutrition guidelines, emphasis is made more on parent foods than on fatty acids per se. In summary, replacing saturated fatty acids (SAFA) for monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) reduces cardiovascular risk. Recent data suggest that SAFA proper may be harmful or not depending on the parent food, a reason why an intake threshold is not established, but consumption of foods containing excess SAFA, such as butter, some processed meats, and commercial confectionery and fried foods is discouraged. The established threshold of <1 % of energy intake as trans FA, well known to be harmful for cardiovascular risk, is fulfilled in Spain due in part to its present low levels in margarines.

MUFA are beneficial or neutral for cardiovascular risk depending on their dietary sources (virgin olive oil versus other fats), and no intake limitations are established. n-6 PUFA are cardioprotective and recommended intakes (5-10 % of energy) are not always fulfilled in the Spanish population, thus increased consumption of their vegetable food sources (seeds, derived oils, and margarines) is encouraged. Marine n-3 PUFA are also cardioprotective and the recommendation stands to eat fatty fish ≥2 servings/weeks to reach intake levels of at least 250 mg/day. Increasing evidence suggests that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the vegetable n-3 PUFA, is also cardioprotective, but the parent foods (walnuts, soy products, green-leaf vegetables) may provide benefits beyond ALA itself. Finally, low-fat (high carbohydrate, particularly when having a high glycemic index) diets appear to lack cardiovascular preventive effects, while high-fat, high-vegetable fat dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, are protective, a reason why no upper limit on fat intake is established for the Spanish population. This position statement targets dietitians, nutritionists and other health professionals involved in dietary counsel so they can deliver it rightly and according to the last scientific evidence.

Click here for the document (in Spanish)

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