After decades of telling us to avoid fat in our diets, health experts have now found that low fat diets are killing them.
The new culprit is carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice. Fat is okay now.
This time the experts have a huge study to support them: more than 135,000 people across five continents participated.
ScienceDaily reports that “contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat (about 35 per cent of energy) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. However, a diet high in carbohydrates (of more than 60 per cent of energy) is related to higher mortality, although not with the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Specifically, people on a diet which includes a moderate intake of fat and fruits and vegetables, and little carbohydrates, live longer.
Yea! Back is bacon, butter and cream without the guilt!
In case you don’t know it yet, the thirty years of official health advice urging us to adopt low-fat diets and to lower cholesterol levels has had disastrous health consequences and is responsible for the unprecedented levels of obesity in countries like the US and the UK.
The research results come from a global study led by researchers at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, Canada, reports ScienceDaily.
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study asked more than 135,000 people from 18 low-income, middle-income and high-income countries about their diet and followed them for an average of seven and half years.
The research found that all major types of fats (saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats), are not associated with major cardiovascular disease.
(Also Read: Exercise May Alter Men’s Food Choices, But Not Women’s )
The large new study, when viewed in the context of most previous studies, questions the conventional beliefs about dietary fats and clinical outcomes, says Mahshid Dehghan, the lead author and an investigator at PHRI.
Here’s the key point.
Dehghan noted that dietary guidelines have focused for decades on reducing total fat to below 30 per cent of daily caloric intake and saturated fat to below 10 per cent of caloric intake. This advice, as we all know, was based on the idea that reducing saturated fat should reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
So what went wrong? Why are people sicker and heavier following the low fat diet?
Dehgan makes a simple, but sharp, observation: the dietary advice did not take into account how saturated fat would be replaced in the diet.
In other words, the experts didn’t foresee that people would replace fat with higher intake of sugar and carbohydrates in order to feel satisfied.
The second paper from the PURE study assessed fruit, vegetable and legume consumption and related them to deaths, heart disease and strokes. The study included South Asia, China, Southeast Asia and Africa where legumes like chickpeas and lentils are eaten on a daily basis.
The study found that a diet of three to four servings or the equivalent to 375 to 500 grams of fruits, vegetables and legumes per day is the healthiest.
Looks like the old adage of ‘moderation in all things’ applies once again. Better to eat a little of a lot of things than excluding or limiting food items from your diet, even if it is so-called expert advice. For all we know, the story may change again in a couple of years.