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A change to global dietary guidelines?

After the results of a recent study, a team of researchers are calling for a change to global dietary guidelines. Findings from over 135,000 individuals across 18 different countries were used and it was found that high carbohydrate intake is linked to a worse total mortality, while high fat intake is associated with a lower risk. For the study, food types and quantities were assessed using a country-specific food questionnaire, this was then compared with cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Currently, it is recommended to limit total fat intake to less than 30% of energy, and saturated fats to 10%. This study has found that increasing this limit to 35% with a concomitant lowering of carbohydrates could lower mortality risk. By studying the effects of fats and carbohydrates on blood lipids, they also found that whilst LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) increases with consumption of saturated fats so does HDL (‘good’ cholesterol), the overall effect is a net decrease in the total cholesterol/HDL ratio. LDL cholesterol forms the basis of many dietary guidelines, however this proves that it may not be reliable on its own in predicting the effects of saturated fat on cardiovascular events, other blood lipid markers will have to be utilised. It is hoped that these results can be replicated and the research furthered, so that accepted guidelines become more accurate.

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