Eating healthy fats – such as those found in fish or olive oil – could help reduce people’s risk of death from heart disease, a new study suggests. More than one million deaths could be prevented all across the word each year.
Researchers say that the number of deaths from heart disease caused by insufficient healthy fats-intake is about three times higher than the number of deaths due to consumption of too many saturated fats – which can be found in cheese, meat, coconut ant palm oils, etc.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, author of the study and an adjunct associate professor and co-director of the Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), said that for decades, policies have focused on saturated fats to prevent heart disease. However, the new study shows that insufficient intake of healthy fats is in fact a bigger problem than saturate fats, Dr. Mozaffarian added.
In the study – published Wednesday (Jan. 20) in the Journal of the American Heart Association – the researchers analysed data on diets and number of deaths from heart disease from people in 186 countries, in 2010.
An estimate of 711,800 deaths from heart disease occurred that year – that would equate to approximately ten percent of all deaths due to heart disease worldwide, according to the researchers. Those deaths occurred because people were consuming too little healthy fats known as omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats.
On the other end of the spectrum, only 250,900 deaths from heart disease were due to excessive intake of saturated fats – that would be about three percent of worldwide deaths from heart disease, the researchers found.
The findings also showed that about 537,200 deaths in 2010 were because of high-intake of trans fats (trans-unsaturated fatty acids) – produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in snack food, margarine, frying fast food, and so on.
From 1990 to 2010 the number of deaths from heart disease due to low-intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat decreased by nine percent. During the same period, the number of deaths from heart disease due to high consumption of saturated fats dropped by twenty-one percent. However, deaths from high intake of trans fats increased by four percent, researchers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in the United States more than six hundred thousand people die from heart disease each year. To prevent heart disease, people can do a number of things which include the following: eat healthier diets, get regular exercise, refrain from smoking, etc.
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