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Carbs may be worse for health than fat, new study suggests

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New study say carbohydrates have a more ‘adverse impact’ on cardiovascular risk factors. They also have surprising advice on fruits and vegetables.

Researchers looked at intakes of fat, carbohydrates and protein in more than 135,000 people from 18 low income countries, middle income countries and high income countries.

The study found diets high in carbohydrates were associated with a 28 per cent higher risk of death, compared to low carbohydrate diets. Diets with a high total fat intake were associated with a 23 per cent lower risk of death, compared to low fat.

“Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings,” the authors concluded.

The current guidelines recommend that 50-65 per cent of a person’s daily calories come from carbohydrates, and less than 10 per cent from saturated fats.

The study found the average global diet consisted of at least 60 per cent carbohydrate.

In light of the findings, lead author Dr Mahshid Dehghan at McMaster University, Canada would like the carbohydrate recommendation reduced.

“The current focus on promoting low-fat diets ignores the fact that most people’s diets in low and middle income countries are very high in carbohydrates, which seem to be linked to worse health outcomes,” Dr Dehghan said.

“A certain amount of carbohydrate is necessary to meet energy demands during physical activity and so moderate intakes, of around 50-55 per cent of energy, are likely to be more appropriate than either very high or very low carbohydrate intakes,” he added.

Beyond recommendations about fat and carbohydrates, other researchers of the study found, perhaps more surprisingly, that when it comes to fruits and vegetables, you really can have too much of a good thing.

The researchers recommend eating no more than three to four servings per day. Moderate intake is still associated with health benefits, including lower risk of cardiovascular-related mortality, and overall mortality. But those appear to cap off with increased servings.

“From the perspective of the fruits, vegetables, and legumes, we need to focus on the fact that most Americans are not reaching even these minimum standards,” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, a licensed dietitian. “The message should perhaps not be to eat less to get the same benefit, but rather something more attainable, such as ‘try to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.’”

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