STUDY PANS LOW-FAT DIET

Bring on but­ter and cheese?

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE -

A large Cana­dian study has found that con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, a diet that con­tains a mod­er­ate amount of fat is linked to a re­duced risk of pre­ma­ture death com­pared to the much-touted low-fat diet. The study by re­searchers at McMaster Univer­sity in Hamil­ton, Ont., also found that eating a high-car­bo­hy­drate diet is as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of dy­ing early.

WHO TOOK PART

The in­for­ma­tion is from the Prospec­tive Ur­ban Ru­ral Epi­demi­ol­ogy (PURE) study, which fol­lowed more than 135,000 peo­ple from 18 low-in­come, mid­dle-in­come and high-in­come coun­tries. The study asked peo­ple about their diet and fol­lowed them for an av­er­age of 7½ years.

MAIN FIND­INGS

A diet that in­cludes a mod­er­ate in­take of fat and fruits and veg­eta­bles, and avoid­ance of high car­bo­hy­drates, is as­so­ci­ated with lower risk of death. “To be spe­cific about mod­er­ate, the low­est risk of death was in those peo­ple who con­sume three to four serv­ings (or a to­tal of 375 to 500 grams) of fruits, veg­eta­bles and legumes a day, with little ad­di­tional ben­e­fit from more,” said a re­lease from the univer­sity.

As well, 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.

TYPES OF FAT

The re­search on di­etary fats found that they are not as­so­ci­ated with ma­jor car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, but higher fat con­sump­tion was as­so­ci­ated with lower mor­tal­ity; this was seen for all ma­jor types of fats (sat­u­rated fats, polyun­sat­u­rated fats and mono un­sat­u­rated fats), with sat­u­rated fats be­ing as­so­ci­ated with lower stroke risk, said Mahshid De­hghan, the lead au­thor for the study and an in­ves­ti­ga­tor at the Pop­u­la­tion Health Re­search In­sti­tute (PHRI) of McMaster Univer­sity.

De­hghan pointed out 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 is based on the idea that re­duc­ing sat­u­rated fat should re­duce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, but did not take into ac­count how sat­u­rated fat is re­placed in the diet.

FAT VS. CARBS

“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,” says De­hghan.

FRUIT

The study found cur­rent fruit, veg­etable and legume in­take glob­ally is be­tween three to four serv­ings per day. “Our study found the low­est risk of death in those who con­sumed three to four serv­ings or the equiv­a­lent to 375 to 500 grams of fruits, veg­eta­bles and legumes per day, with little ad­di­tional ben­e­fit for in­take be­yond that range,” said Victoria Miller, a McMaster doc­toral stu­dent and lead au­thor of the paper. “Ad­di­tion­ally, fruit in­take was more strongly as­so­ci­ated with ben­e­fit than veg­eta­bles.”

LEGUMES

Legumes in­clude beans, black beans, lentils, peas, chick­peas and black-eyed peas and are fre­quently eaten as an al­ter­na­tive to meat or some grains and starches such as pasta and white bread. “Legumes are com­monly con­sumed by many pop­u­la­tions in South Asia, Africa and Latin Amer­ica. Eating even one serv­ing per day de­creases the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and death. Legumes are not com­monly con­sumed out­side these ge­o­graphic re­gions, so in­creased con­sump­tion among pop­u­la­tions in Europe or North Amer­ica may be favourable,” said Miller.

MODERATION

“Moderation in most as­pects of diet is to be pre­ferred, as op­posed to very low or very high in­takes of most nu­tri­ents,” said Salim Yusuf, the di­rec­tor of the PHRI. Na­tional Post, with files from The Cana­dian Press

GETTY IMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO

In­creased con­sump­tion of legumes “may be favourable.”

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