Study gives fat a healthy tick

Contrary to decades of dietary advice, consuming moderate amounts of fat appears to reduce the risk of premature death, a major global study has found.

Researchers studied more than 135,000 people across five continents and the results showed that when fat consumption represented about 35 per cent of a daily calorie intake it was associated with a lower risk of death, compared to lower fat intakes.

Researchers also found that dietary fats, including saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are not associated with major cardiovascular diseases or increased risk of heart attacks.

However, a diet high in carbohydrates, in which carbs represent more than 60 per cent of a person’s calorie intake, was linked to higher mortality rates.

Overall, the study showed that avoiding a high-carb diet and consuming a moderate amount of fat, along with fruits and vegetables, can lower the risk of premature death.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study  led by researchers at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences followed more than 135,000 people from 18 countries and various economic and cultural backgrounds for an average of seven-and-a-half years.

The PURE study also found that:

  • People who ate three to four servings (between 375 and 500 grams) of fruits, vegetables and legumes per day had the lowest risk of premature death.
  • Although most dietary guidelines recommend a minimum of five daily servings of fruits and veggies, researchers say higher intakes did not result in many additional health benefits.

The researchers point out that, while this may appear surprising to some, these new results are consistent with several observational studies and randomised controlled trials conducted in Western countries during the past two decades.

Mahshid Dehghan, the lead author of the PURE study said that for decades, dietary guidelines have focused on reducing total fat consumption to below 30 per cent of a person’s daily calorie intake.

“A decrease in fat intake automatically led to an increase in carbohydrate consumption and our findings may explain why certain populations such as South Asians, who do not consume much fat but consume a lot of carbohydrates, have higher mortality rates,” Ms Dehghan said in a news release.

What do you think? Will this study encourage you to decrease your intake of carbohydrates and worry less about your fat intake?

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Written by Ben

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