Heart Foundation and Unilever separately welcome “good fats” message

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th February 2013

Australia’s National Heart Foundation and food giant Unilever have independently welcomed the new Australian Dietary Guideline’s message in support of “good fats.”

The 2013 revision of the guidelines released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)  yesterday promotes “good fats” such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated instead of the previous encouragement of a “low fat” diet promoted in the 2003 guidelines.

The 2013 revision advises Australians to replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, coconut and palm oil with foods that contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.

National CEO of the Heart Foundation, Dr Lyn Roberts, welcomed the NHMRC’s move away from “low fat” messaging, which she said has been promoting “the wrong message.”

“We should certainly be reducing bad fats, but it’s important to replace them with good fats. People should not cut all fats from their diet,” Dr Roberts said.

Meanwhile, Unilever’s Nutrition & Health Manager Brooke Sprott said that she was pleased that the guidelines recognise the difference “between good and bad fats” but hoped it would also be included in the accompanying Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

“This change reflects the significant scientific evidence base, built over the last 60 years, that demonstrates that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in Australia,” Ms Sprott said.

“However, by featuring ‘off the plate’ in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, consumers may be confused on how to include healthy oils and spreads into their diet,” Ms Sprott added.

Unilever has called for upcoming release of companion resources to give more practical examples of “how to eat good fats.”

The new “good fats” emphasis in the 2013 revision of the Australian Dietary Guidelines contradicts a recent study published in the British Medical Journal which reported that butter is healthier than margarine. The study was heavily criticised by the Heart Foundation, which said it was based on “misguided” evidence from the 60’s and 70’s.

Unilever and the Heart Foundation have welcomed the NHMRC's new "good fats" message.