"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", said Mahshid Dehghan, a researcher at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and lead author of a study in The Lancet.
"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", she said. On the other hand, people who were at the high end of fat consumption fat intake saw a 23% reduction in total mortality risk, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, and a 30% reduced risk of non-CVD mortality.
There has been mounting scientific evidence over the last five years challenging the long-held notion that fat is to blame for cardiovascular disease and death, said Richard Bazinet, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the Lancet-published study.
She added that the current guidelines were developed about four decades ago using data from some Western countries where fat was more than 40 percent or 45 percent of caloric intake and saturated fat intakes were more than 20 percent.
The second paper from the PURE study assessed fruit, vegetable and legume consumption and related them to deaths, heart disease and strokes.
Although most dietary guidelines recommend a minimum of five daily servings of fruits and veggies, researchers say higher intakes did not result in many additional health benefits. PURE participants were aged 35 to 70 and came from countries in North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, South Asia, South East Asia and China.
A second McMaster study found that eating three to four servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes per day has a similar benefit in reducing the risk of premature death as eating the now recommended five-plus servings. They also documented the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease as well as other causes, including cancer, and respiratory and infectious diseases.
Overall, the study showed that avoiding a high-carb diet and consuming a moderate amount of fat, along with fruits and vegetables, can lower the risk of premature death. "And increasing consumption of carbohydrates results in higher risk of mortality". Instead, ApoB/ApoA1 was the best risk indicator among the markers tested.
Saturated fat is typically found in animal products such as butter, cheese and red meat.
Researcher Dr Andrew Mente, from McMaster University, said that getting 35% of calories from fat was the "sweet spot" for good health.
Researchers say the PURE study further demonstrates the importance of dietary moderation, and provides "robust, globally applicable" evidence that can be used to inform nutrition policies. "This target is likely more affordable and achievable, especially in low and middle income countries where the costs of fruits and vegetables are relatively high".
EATING a low-fat diet could kill you, a major study claims.