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Eliminating saturated fats, low-quality carbs can improve heart health

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Washington: A new study has revealed that consuming unsaturated fats and high-quality carbohydrates can lower risk of heart disease.

Lead investigator Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that when study participants consumed less saturated fats, they were replacing them with low-quality carbohydrates such as refined grains that were not beneficial to preventing heart disease.

Hu said that their findings suggested that when patients were making lifestyle changes to their diets, cardiologists should encourage the consumption of unsaturated fats like vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, as well as healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains.

In this study, researchers followed 84,628 women and 42,908 men who were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer and documented 7,667 incidents of coronary heart disease.

Participants provided information on diet, lifestyle, medical history, and newly diagnosed diseases through questionnaires at baseline and every two to four years for 24 to 30 years.

Researchers found that participants generally replaced calories from saturated fatty acids with calories from low-quality carbohydrates such as white bread or potatoes rather than calories from unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds or high-quality carbohydrates like those in whole grains.

Replacing five percent of energy intake from saturated fats with an equivalent intake from either polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, or carbohydrates from whole grains was associated with 25 percent, 15 percent, and 9 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

On the other hand, replacing five percent of energy intake from saturated fats with carbohydrates from refined starches or sugars was not associated with either increased or decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (ANI)