In a new study from Monash University, researchers found moderate carbohydrate intake and not saturated fat could provide a heart health benefits to women.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women.
Poor diet is recognized as both an independent CVD risk factor and a contributor to other CVD risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
The research found that in middle-aged women, increasing the percentage of carbohydrate intake was strongly linked to reduced odds of CVD, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Furthermore, a moderate carbohydrate intake between 41%—44.3% of total energy intake was linked to the lowest risk of CVD compared to women who consumed less than 37% energy as carbohydrates.
In addition, increasing proportional saturated fat intake was not linked to heart disease or mortality in women.
Rather, increasing saturated fat intake is linked to lower odds of developing diabetes s, high blood pressure, and obesity.
The results contradict much of the historical epidemiological research that supported a link between saturated fat and CVD.
While the cause of this inconsistency in the literature is unclear, it has been suggested that historical studies neglected to adjust for fiber, which is known to help prevent plaque from forming in the arteries.
Researchers say that quality carbohydrate foods such as vegetables and whole grains—including whole grain bread, cereals, and pasta—are beneficial for heart health, whereas poor quality carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, cakes, and pastries can increase risk.
Similarly, different fats have different effects on heart health.
That is why the Heart Foundation focuses on healthy eating patterns—that is, a combination of foods, chosen regularly over time—rather than a single nutrient or food.
Include plenty of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and heart-healthy fat choices such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking and a variety of healthy proteins especially seafood, beans and lentils, eggs and dairy.
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The study is published in the British Medical Journal. One author of the study is Sarah Zaman.
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