`Unsaturated Fats and Whole Grain Carbohydrates Associated with Lower CHD Risk - Olive Oil Times

Unsaturated Fats and Whole Grain Carbohydrates Associated with Lower CHD Risk

Sep. 30, 2015
Sukhsatej Batra

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A recent study pro­vides a sim­ple and effec­tive way of reduc­ing the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease — replace sat­u­rated fats such as those found in red meat and dairy prod­ucts with high-qual­ity car­bo­hy­drates and unsat­u­rated fats such as olive oil, other veg­etable oils, nuts and seeds.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reached this con­clu­sion based on analy­sis of data from two large stud­ies in the US that spanned a period of 24 to 30 years.

Although sat­u­rated fats increase the risk of heart dis­ease, recent stud­ies failed to find any asso­ci­a­tion between intake of sat­u­rated fats and risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease. Such results cre­ated a con­tro­versy and led to the TIME mag­a­zine cover story Eat Butter.”

Replacing sat­u­rated fats and refined car­bo­hy­drates with unsat­u­rated fats such as olive oil and whole grain car­bo­hy­drates may help lower risk of heart dis­ease.- Harvard School of Public Health

But the real rea­son, accord­ing to the authors of the present study, could very well be that the type of fat and car­bo­hy­drates used to replace the sat­u­rated fats affects the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease dif­fer­ently.

In an attempt to address this ques­tion, the present study, the first of its kind, set out to com­pare the risk of heart dis­ease with intake of sat­u­rated fat, unsat­u­rated fats and dif­fer­ent types of car­bo­hy­drates.

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The inves­ti­ga­tion included 84,628 healthy women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study and 42,908 healthy men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, who had no his­tory of heart dis­ease, dia­betes and can­cer.

Food fre­quency ques­tion­naires, com­pleted at the start of the study and every 2 to 4 years there­after by the sub­jects pro­vided dietary, med­ical and lifestyle infor­ma­tion for the dura­tion of the study. There were 7,667 cases of coro­nary heart dis­ease over the course of the study.

The results of the study, reported on September 28, 2015 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that when sub­jects reduced their intake of sat­u­rated fats, they replaced calo­ries from sat­u­rated fats with calo­ries from low-qual­ity car­bo­hy­drate foods such as white bread, rice or pota­toes rather than whole grain car­bo­hy­drates or unsat­u­rated fats.

The premise that removal of sat­u­rated fats from the diet would suf­fice in low­er­ing risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease was proved wrong when analy­sis of data revealed that risk of heart dis­ease was higher when con­sump­tion of refined car­bo­hy­drates and added sug­ars was increased. Refined car­bo­hy­drates appear to be as unhealthy for the heart as sat­u­rated fats, accord­ing to the paper.

On the other hand, higher intake of whole grain car­bo­hy­drates was asso­ci­ated with a lower risk of heart dis­ease. Similarly, higher intakes of polyun­sat­u­rated fats and monoun­sat­u­rated fats were also asso­ci­ated with a lower risk of heart dis­ease.

The authors esti­mated that replac­ing five per­cent of the energy from sat­u­rated fats with five per­cent energy from polyun­sat­u­rated fats low­ered heart dis­ease risk by 25 per­cent. Likewise, replac­ing five per­cent of the energy from sat­u­rated fats with a sim­i­lar amount of energy from monoun­sat­u­rated fats reduced CHD risk by 15 per­cent and by nine per­cent when replaced with energy from whole grain car­bo­hy­drates.

According to the study, replac­ing sat­u­rated fats with refined car­bo­hy­drates is not ben­e­fi­cial in pre­vent­ing heart dis­ease.

Findings of this large and long-term study indi­cate that replac­ing sat­u­rated fats and refined car­bo­hy­drates that are part of the Western diet with unsat­u­rated fats such as olive oil and whole grain car­bo­hy­drates typ­i­cal of the Mediterranean diet may help lower risk of heart dis­ease.



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