Saturday, January 30, 2016

Eating the right fats could save 1 million lives per year

    It’s often said that fatty foods can be detrimental to heart health. And yet, scientists revealed certain fats can actually prevent heart disease. Eating healthier fats could save more than one million people worldwide from dying prematurely of heart disease, according to a new study from the American Heart Association. The study revealed, for the first time, that global heart disease burdens can be attributed to insufficient intake of polyunsaturated fats.
Study author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, said: ‘Worldwide, policymakers are focused on reducing saturated fats.
‘Yet, we found there would be a much bigger impact on heart disease deaths if the priority was to increase the consumption of polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as to reduce trans fats.’ Polyunsaturated fats help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
That, in turn, can lower the risks of heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, oils that are rich in polyunsaturated fats provide essential fats that the body needs – including long chain fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods including soybeans, corn and sunflower oils, tofu, nuts and seeds. They are also contained it fatty fishes, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.
The study sought to estimate the number of annual deaths related to various patterns of fat consumption. The team of scientists used 2010 data from 186 countries.
They estimated worldwide that 711,900 heat disease deaths stemmed from eating too little healthy omega-6 polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. Those accounted for 10.3 per cent of total global heart disease deaths. Comparatively, only 250,900 of heart disease deaths occurred because of excess consumption of saturated fats instead of healthier vegetable oils.
Saturated fats can be found in meat, cheese and fat dairy products, in addition to palm and coconut oils. The study also found that 537,200 deaths – representing 7.7 per cent of global heart disease deaths – came as a result of excess consumption of trans fats.
Trans fats are contained in processed, baked and fried goods – as well as cooking fats in certain countries. The study also compared data from 1990 to 2010. The researchers found that the proportion of heart disease deaths due to insufficient omega-6 polyunsaturated fat declined nine per cent. Due to that, they also saw that high saturated fats decreased by 21 per cent.
On the other hand, however, deaths because of high consumption of trans fats great up four per cent. Dr Mozaffarian said: ‘People think of trans fats as being only a rich country problem due to packaged and fast-food products.
‘But, in middle and low income nations such as India and in the Middle East, there is wide use of inexpensive, partially hydrogenated cooking fats in the home and by street vendors. ‘Because of strong policies, trans fat-related deaths are going down in Western nations (although still remaining important in the United States and Canada).
‘But in many low- and middle-income countries, trans fat-related deaths appear to be going up, making this a global problem.’ The study found that nations in the former Soviet Union – especially Ukraine – had the highest rates of heart-disease deaths because of low polyunsaturated fat consumption.
Yet, tropical nations – including the Philippines and Malaysia – had the highest rates of heart-disease deaths from excess saturated fat consumption.
Dr Mozaffarian said: ‘These findings should be of great interest to both the public and policy makers around the world, helping countries to set their nutrition priorities to combat the global epidemic of heart disease.’