Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat could lower heart disease risk by almost 20 percent, concluded a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine and reported by Medical News Today.

“Our findings suggest that polyunsaturated fats would be a preferred replacement for saturated fats for better heart health,” said lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Saturated fats are often found in red meats, poultry fat and dairy products. In contrast, polyunsaturated fats are generally found in nuts, fish, seeds and vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, canola and olive.

For the study, HSPH researchers analyzed data of 13,614 people from eight different yearlong, randomized clinical trials where participants replaced saturated fat in their diet, increased polyunsaturated fat consumption and experienced coronary heart disease events.

After they evaluated the data, researchers found that those who replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduced their coronary heart disease risk by 19 percent (compared with control group participants who didn’t change their diet). Also, coronary heart disease risk declined 10 percent for every 5 percent increase in polyunsaturated fat consumption, and benefits multiplied the longer the study lasted.

These results showed if more people shifted from saturated to polyunsaturated fat, then coronary heart disease in the population would drop, the study authors said in a statement.

Study evidence also suggested vegetable oils may be a primary source of polyunsaturated fat. In addition, researchers said the findings supported the recommendation people get 15 percent—not the 10 percent currently cited—of their calories from polyunsaturated fats since this amount more effectively reduced people’s coronary heart disease risk.

Click here for more information from the American Heart Association about saturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Watch how you can prevent heart disease here.