A new study demonstrates that eating healthy fats can reduce the number of worldwide deaths caused by heart disease by more than 1 million.

It was explained that refined carbohydrates and saturated fats such as table sugar, flour products, white rice and red meats should be replaced with vegetable oils that can protect the heart. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Tuesday.

It was explained that eating some healthy fats that can be found in fish, avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oil, tofu, corn and sunflower oils, eggs and beans, could prevent up to a million of people in the world of dying from heart disease. Researchers compared worldwide effects of consuming saturated fats, in comparison with eating foods with polyunsaturated fats, which are recognized for having good health benefits.

Choosing the type of fat you'll consume can improve your health in many ways. Photo: Harvard Health
Choosing the type of fat you’ll consume can improve your health in many ways. Photo: Harvard Health

Bad cholesterol levels can be reduced with the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, as a consequence, people can lower their risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, some substances that are needed by the body are provided by this kind of healthy fats. In order to compare the different fat intakes from people around the world, the team of researchers collected data of diet and food patterns from 186 countries.

Heart disease is the main cause of death in the U.S., in fact one in every four deaths in the country are caused by a heart problem. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention reported that every year more than 610,000 people die from heart disease in the country. Being coronary heart disease and heart attack are the most common types.

“Worldwide, policymakers are focused on reducing saturated fats. Yet, we found there would be a much bigger impact on heart disease deaths if the priority was to increase the consumption of polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as to reduce trans fats,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior study author in a press release on Tuesday.

Results from the study would appear to show that approximately 711,800 heart disease deaths in the world (10.3 percent of global rates), were caused by low intakes of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. On the other hand, 537,200 deaths, (7.7 percent of global rates), occurred as a result of overage consumption of trans fats, that can be found in processed, baked and fried foods.

“People think of trans fats as being only a rich country problem due to packaged and fast-food products.  But, in middle and low income nations such as India and in the Middle East, there is wide use of inexpensive, partially hydrogenated cooking fats in the home and by street vendors. Because of strong policies, trans fat-related deaths are going down in Western nations, but in many low- and middle-income countries, trans fat-related deaths appear to be going up, making this a global problem,” Mozaffarian said.

Researchers concluded that the new findings should be analyzed by policy makers and people, in order to take actions and elaborate nutrition plans to prevent people of dying from heart disease. Since each country has specific needs according to their current diets and the foods they consume, for instance, Ukraine has high rates of heart-disease caused by low consumption of healthy fats. On the other hand, some tropical nations such as Kiribati and Malaysia, have higher rates of heart disease caused by enormous consumption of saturated fat.

Source: American Heart Association