High carbohydrate intake is associated with a higher risk of mortality, and high fat intake with a lower risk, researchers report.
An international team of scientists studied diet and mortality in 135,335 people between 35 and 70 years old in 18 countries, following them for an average of more than seven years. Diet information depended on self-reports, and the scientists controlled for factors including age, sex, smoking, physical activity and body mass index. The study is in The Lancet.
Compared with people who ate the lowest 20 percent of carbohydrates, those who ate the highest 20 percent had a 28 percent increased risk of death. But high carbohydrate intake was not associated with cardiovascular death.
People with the highest 20 percent in total fat intake — an average of 35.3 percent of calories from fat — had about a 23 percent reduced risk of death compared with the lowest 20 percent (an average of 10.6 percent of calories from fat). Consuming higher saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat were all associated with lower mortality. Higher fat diets were also associated with a lower risk of stroke.
“Guidelines recommend low saturated fat, and some recommend really low amounts,” said a co-author, Andrew Mente, an epidemiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. “Our study, which captures intake at the lowest levels, shows that this may be harmful.”
Current federal guidelines recommend a diet that provides no more than 35 percent of calories from fat.