People who consume foods that are low in fats but high in carbohydrates may be at an increased risk of an early death as compared to those who consume fat-rich foods such as cheese and butter, a study has claimed.
The findings, published in the journal Lancet, showed that contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat – about 35% of energy – is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes.
The association 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.
On the other hand, a diet high in carbohydrates – of more than 60% of energy – is related to higher mortality.
“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,” said lead author Mahshid Dehghan from the McMaster University in Canada.
The study, involving more than 1,35,000 people across five continents, showed that people who consume three to four servings or equivalent to 375 to 500 grams of fruits, vegetables and legumes a day may be at a lower risk of death.
Raw vegetable intake was more strongly associated with a lower risk of death compared to cooked vegetable intake, the researchers said.
“Our results indicate that recommendations should emphasise raw vegetable intake over cooked,” added Victoria Miller, doctoral student at the McMaster University.
In another study, published by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the researchers found that LDL or “bad” cholesterol is not reliable in predicting the effects of saturated fat on future cardiovascular events.
Instead, the ratio of Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) and Apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) – organising proteins in the blood – give the best indication of the impact of saturated fat on cardiovascular risk.