Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Oh, Please Make Up Your Mind
Do you feel like your head starts spinning when you hear more news about what you should or shouldn't eat? Well, we've got one more update for you. On Monday, new research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine cites evidence that potentially debunks the link between saturated fat and heart attacks and heart-related diseases.
Researchers pooled data from dozens of previously conducted studies involving more than a half million people, as well as some randomized controlled trials, to come up with the "best evidence to date." In the analysis, people who ate higher levels of saturated fat did not have higher levels of heart disease, nor did those who ate more polyunsaturated fats (a type of unsaturated fat that comes from soybean oil or canola oil) have lower levels of heart disease. The study also found that diets high in carbohydrates or sugars led to increased artery clogging, which often leads to heart problems.
So what's all this mean? The new findings suggest that we should focus our dietary guidelines more on food groups, and less on macronutrients, like the varieties of fat, total protein, or broad categories like carbohydrates — a.k.a. "high protein," "low saturated fat," or "low carb."
"The single macronutrient approach is outdated," Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, told The New York Times. "I think future dietary guidelines will put more emphasis on real food rather than giving an absolute upper limit or cutoff point for certain macronutrients." After all, he said, when people cut down on fats, they end up overeating refined carbs, like bread and cereal.
And, sorry, this isn't a green light to start eating bacon cheeseburgers, says Good Housekeeping Nutrition Director Samantha Cassetty, M.S., R.D. "I'm pretty sure we aren't going to learn that a steak is healthier than lentils," she says. "It may be that saturated fat isn't as harmful as we once thought when it comes to heart disease, but there's still good evidence that red meat is linked to a higher risk of cancer." Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that saturated fats be no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
Cassetty says your best bet is still the Mediterranean diet, with its heavy emphasis on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes and beans, and whole grains.
What do you think about this study?