An international study led by a group of researchers from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, Canada, suggests that a diet consisting of a moderate consumption of fat, fruits and vegetables, coupled with avoidance of high levels of carbohydrates, is linked with a decreased risk of death.
“Our study found the lowest risk of death in those who consumed three to four servings, or the equivalent to 375 to 500 grams, of fruits, vegetables and legumes per day, with little additional benefit for intake beyond that range,” said Victoria Miller, a McMaster doctoral student and a lead author of the paper.
Also, contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat (about 35 per cent of energy) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. A diet high in carbohydrates (of more than 60 per cent of energy) is related to higher mortality, although not with the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“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,” said Mahshid Dehghan, another lead author for the study and an investigator at PHRI..
The findings of the study were published in two reports in The Lancet. The data was taken from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, which followed more than 135,000 people from 18 low-income, middle-income and high-income countries. The study asked people about their diet and followed them for an average of seven-and-a-half years.
“Moderation in most aspects of diet is to be preferred, as opposed to very low or very high intakes of most nutrients,” concluded Salim Yusuf, principal investigator of the study and the director of PHRI.