It was in the 90s when dietary fats were demonized for their purported health effects but these days, health experts believe that healthy fats are important for many essential functions.
Now a new study found that a low carb diet with high amounts of healthy fat – such as the ketogenic diet – may be healthier than a low-fat diet. The surprising new study was published in the Lancet, suggesting that high-fat diets provide added protection against mortality compared to diets low in fat.
The Groundbreaking Study
The Lancet study — which included more than 135,000 adults from 18 countries, spanning five continents — is turning much of what people thought that they knew about the relationship between fat intake and risk for heart disease and mortality (death) on its head. (This includes the misguided authors of the documentary “What the Health.”) The study found associations between eating a low-fat diet and having a significantly higher risk for mortality, just the opposite of what most people would expect.
Researchers involved in the study point out that “The relationship between macronutrients and cardiovascular disease and mortality is controversial.” For years, there hasn’t been much consensus in the health/nutrition community regarding what level of total fat intake is optimal, nor what the percentage of different types of fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated) in the diet should ideally be.
To help shed light on the ways that fat intake may benefit or harm cardiovascular health, researchers involved in the study split participants into categories based on the percentage of energy in their diet (calories) provided by the three macronutrients (carbohydrate, fats and protein). They then assessed the associations between consumption of carbohydrate, total fat and each type of fat with cardiovascular disease risk (which includes fatal cardiovascular disease, non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure) and total mortality risk.
Below are some of the study’s key findings after comparing low-carb, high-fat diets vs. low-fat diets:
- High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality.
- Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.
- Saturated fat intake had an inverse association with the risk for suffering from a stroke, meaning the more saturated fat included in someone’s diet, the more protection against having a stroke they seemed to have.
- Even though higher carb intake was associated with mortality, it was not associated with higher cardiovascular disease risk or cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
Image courtesy of: lamskincare