Although many people believe reducing fat intake is the best way towards a healthy lifestyle, new evidence suggests that cutting out such foods could have a negative impact on your health.
Research from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, published in The Lancet journal, found that people who ate a lot of butter, cheese and meats lived up to 23 per cent longer than those who reduced their fat intake.
The research is led by Dr. Salim Yusuf and Koon Teo at McMaster University in Hamilton, and looks at environmental, social and biological influences on obesity and chronic health conditions.
So, does this mean you should stock up on garlic bread and pizza? Maybe not! These meals still have a large amount of fat and carbohydrates which, if eaten in excess, can raise blood sugar and deposit fat.
The study identified that people on low-fat diets swapped out foods high in saturated fat for carb-heavy dishes such as pasta and pizza. This had a negative impact on their cardiovascular health, putting them at risk of a higher mortality rate.
Of course, devouring some delicious margherita slices every so often is no problem, but eating them regularly is likely to damage your chances of meeting your fitness goals.
The importance of finding the right balance
As is the case with most foods, finding the right balance of low-fat products is crucial in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What’s more, some foods are starchier than many people assume. Fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of starch, but the study suggests that it is still important to not eat too many.
The research emphasised that three to four servings of fruits and vegetables offered the best benefits, rather than the daily recommended five servings.
Overall, the PURE study recommends that around 35 per cent of a person’s calories should come from fats.
Speaking to The Telegraph, researcher Dr Andrew Mente, from McMaster University, said: “Our data suggests that low fat diets put populations at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Loosening the restriction on total fat and saturated fat and imposing limits on carbohydrates when high to reduce intake to moderate levels would be optimal.”
How can people adjust their diets following the latest advice?
If the latest findings have you rethinking your diet, there are some easy ways to introduce healthier fats into your daily intake.
Firstly, avocados are a fantastic option. Instead of primarily containing carbohydrates like most other fruits, these are around 77 per cent fat and contain 40 per cent more potassium than bananas.
Peanut butter is another excellent alternative. High in protein and healthy fats, spread some on brown bread for a delicious post-exercise snack!
Eggs are another fantastic option. As well as being high in protein, they’re are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin – two antioxidants that protect eyes against disease. Throw them into a delicious salad, or mix them with some quinoa for a deliciously filling meal.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, too. Quite often, people are guilty of snacking when hydration is what their body needs. Even alongside your daily warm drinks, make sure you consume enough water. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends 2.5 litres for men and two litres for women every day.
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