What exactly is the perfect amount of fats and carbohydrates to combine for a healthy diet?
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada poured over food data from more than 135,000 people in 18 countries around the world to answer that very question.
They findings support that old saying moderation is key. In this case, it means eating moderate amounts of both carbs and fats, rather than higher amounts of one or the other, is key to a healthier heart and better life expectancy.
The study’s participants’ carb intake ranged between 46% to 77% of daily calories. The higher that percentage was, the greater risk of death, heart attack, and stroke the participants had. Interestingly, going low-carb didn’t convey many benefits either – 50% of daily calories seems to be the sweet spot. That’s only if you focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than white bread and other refined grains, white rice and foods high in sugar.
Fat intake yielded similarly surprising results. For example, people who got a full 35% of their daily calories from fat actually had a lower risk of dying than those who limited fat to 10%. And going under 10% of total calories in saturated fat may not be necessary, either – in fact, going under 7% may actually be detrimental.
Another important take away from this study is how to replace excess carbs. The greatest health boon seemed to come from eating foods with polyunsaturated fats, such as walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds, and fatty fish.
Importantly, the scientists do note that these findings are observational, so they can’t directly link any causes or effects. But with this general data at hand, you have a foundation to start personalizing your food choices to your unique health profile.
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