High fat or carb-based diet? Don't be fooled‚ try this for good health

30 August 2017 - 14:19 By Suthentira Govender
The Association for Dietetics in South Africa recommends a balanced diet that neither favours fat or carbohydrates‚ but rather focuses on healthy dietary patterns.
The Association for Dietetics in South Africa recommends a balanced diet that neither favours fat or carbohydrates‚ but rather focuses on healthy dietary patterns.
Image: iStock

A balanced diet that neither favours fat nor carbohydrates‚ is the key to good health for South Africans.

So says the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA)‚ in reaction to an international study which found that replacing fat with a high carbohydrate intake may be linked to worse health outcomes.

The study‚ published in The Lancet‚ involved more than 135‚000 people from 18 countries and found that high fat diets were associated with a lower risk of mortality‚ while a high intake of carbs was associated with a higher risk.

Said lead researcher Dr Mahshid Dehghan: “The current focus on promoting low-fat diets ignores the fact that most people’s diets in low and middle income countries are very high in carbohydrates‚ which seem to be linked to worse health outcomes.

"In low-and middle-income countries‚ where diets sometimes consist of more than 65% of energy from carbohydrates‚ guidelines should refocus their attention towards reducing carbohydrate intake‚ instead of focusing on reducing fats.

The best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats – approximately 50-55% carbohydrates and around 35% total fat
Dr Mahshid Dehghan, researcher

“The best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats – approximately 50-55% carbohydrates and around 35% total fat‚ including both saturated and unsaturated fats.

"Our study did not look at trans fats‚ typically from processed foods‚ and the evidence is clear that these are unhealthy.”

Nicole Lubasinski‚ a dietician and head of ADSA said the body supported current evidence that recommends a “balanced dietary approach that neither favours fat or carbohydrate‚ but rather focuses on healthy dietary patterns.”

This includes whole grains‚ high-fibre sources of carbohydrates‚ dietary fats that are rich in omega-3‚ polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

Lubasinski said the intake of highly refined carbohydrates‚ free sugars and trans fatty acids should be discouraged.

“The findings suggest that most participants from Africa consume a very high carbohydrate diet (63% of total energy intake)‚ but the current findings do not provide us with information about which carbohydrates are associated with an increased risk for mortality.

"The authors state that the high carbohydrate intakes in low and middle-income countries were predominantly from refined sources‚ which are known to be linked with increased risk for mortality. Thus‚ this suggests that the high carbohydrate intakes from refined sources is driving the association‚” said Lubasinski. - TimesLIVE

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