Heart disease linked to carbs, not fat

Researchers have called for dietary guidelines to be changed after a new study found that consumption of carbohydrates rather than fat is most commonly associated with risk of heart disease.

The study of 135,000 individuals from 18 low, middle and high-income countries found that high carbohydrate intake is linked to worse total mortality and non-cardiovascular (CV) mortality outcomes, while high fat intake is associated with lower risk.

The study’s authors said the results did not support current recommendations to limit total fat intake to less than 30% of energy and saturated fat intake to less than 10% of energy.

The role of fat in the diet has come under scrutiny of late with certain sections of the medical community questioning longstanding government advice to limit its consumption.

Public Health England recently told Footprint that there is good evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that saturated fat consumption influences cholesterol levels and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, this latest study will give further weight to the cause of those who believe excessive consumption of carbohydrates, rather than fat, has contributed to the obesity crisis.

“Limiting total fat consumption is unlikely to improve health in populations, and a total fat intake of about 35% of energy with concomitant lowering of carbohydrate intake may lower risk of total mortality,” said study investigator Dr Mahshid Dehghan from the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University, Canada.

“In fact, individuals with high carbohydrate intake, above 60% of energy, may benefit from a reduction in carbohydrate intake and increase in the consumption of fats.”

In a related study, researchers found that higher fruit, vegetable, and legume consumption was associated with a lower risk of heart disease and mortality.

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