Health

MUFAs from Plant Sources May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease Death

Monounsaturated fat foods can promote longevity if they are derived from plants rather than animals a new study found.

Crete, Greece
Apr. 5, 2018
By Mary West
Crete, Greece

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A study found eat­ing a diet rich in monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (MUFA) from plant sources was linked to a lower risk of death from heart dis­ease and other causes. Con­versely, it showed eat­ing a diet plen­ti­ful in MUFA from ani­mal sources was asso­ci­ated with a higher risk of death.

We should eat more monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from plant sources and less monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from ani­mal sources.- Marta Guasch-Ferré, Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health

MUFA from ani­mal foods come mainly from dairy prod­ucts, eggs, poul­try, fish, processed red meat and unprocessed red meat,” lead author Marta Guasch-Ferré, told Olive Oil Times. MUFA from plant foods come from veg­etable cook­ing oils, espe­cially olive oil; breads and cere­als; fruits; veg­eta­bles; legumes; nuts; and seeds. High amounts of the lat­ter are con­tained in olive oil, olives and avo­ca­dos, as well as the nut vari­eties of almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans and macadamia.”

In the research, sci­en­tists exam­ined data from 29,966 men from the Health Pro­fes­sion­als Fol­low-Up Study and 63,412 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. The records included detailed food-fre­quency ques­tion­naires that had been admin­is­tered every four years.

Over the course of 22 years, 20,672 deaths occurred, 4,588 of which stemmed from heart dis­ease. Eval­u­a­tion of dietary infor­ma­tion revealed the fol­low­ing:

  • Indi­vid­u­als with a higher intake of plant MUFA had a 16-per­cent lower like­li­hood of death from any cause.
  • Indi­vid­u­als with a higher con­sump­tion of ani­mal MUFA had a 21-per­cent greater like­li­hood of death from any cause.
  • Sub­sti­tut­ing 2 to 5 per­cent of calo­ries from refined car­bo­hy­drates, trans fats and sat­u­rated fats with an equal num­ber of calo­ries from plant MUFA might reduce the risk of death from heart dis­ease and all causes between 10 to 15 per­cent.
  • Replac­ing 5 per­cent of calo­ries from ani­mal MUFA with an equal num­ber of calo­ries from plant MUFA might reduce the risk of death from heart dis­ease and all causes between 24 to 26 per­cent.

The study was obser­va­tional, a type of research that can iden­tify a trend; but it doesn’t prove a cause-effect rela­tion­ship exists. Results were adjusted for sev­eral fac­tors that influ­ence death risk, includ­ing alco­hol intake, smok­ing, phys­i­cal activ­ity, intake of fruits and veg­eta­bles, body mass index, fam­ily his­tory of chronic dis­ease and the pres­ence of heart dis­ease risk fac­tors at the study’s onset.

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MUFA from plants is a healthy type of fat. Research has shown that they can be ben­e­fi­cial for car­dio­vas­cu­lar health because they have shown to ben­e­fit insulin lev­els and blood sugar con­trol, improve blood lipids like cho­les­terol and triglyc­erides and atten­u­ate inflam­ma­tory processes. All of these are risk fac­tors for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease,” added Guasch-Ferré.

The MUFA from plant foods are wrapped in a health­ful pack­age: they are loaded with vit­a­mins, min­er­als and other nutri­ents. In con­trast, MUFAs from ani­mal foods are often wrapped in an unhealth­ful pack­age, as they con­tain sat­u­rated fat and other com­po­nents that con­tribute to dis­ease devel­op­ment.

Our results empha­size the impor­tance of the source and quan­tity of mono-unsat­u­rated fatty acids in the diet. We should eat more monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from plant sources and less monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from ani­mal sources,” said Guasch-Ferré in a press release.

The results were pre­sented at the Amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion’s Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Pre­ven­tion | Lifestyle and Car­diometa­bolic Health Sci­en­tific Ses­sions 2018.





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