ATLANTA - For years, we've had it drilled into us that fat is bad. Experts have warned us loading up of things like butter, cheese, and meat could put us on the fast-track to the cath lab, and raise your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.But a major new study could upend our obsession with cutting fat.
The study, called PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology), followed 135,000 people in 18 countries.
Dr. Felipe Lobelo, MD, an Associate Professor of Global Health at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health, says the study adds to the growing evidence going low-fat is not the answer.
"Because that hasn't really worked," Lobelo says. "And, we have more and more data showing that, if anything, it has negative consequences."
PURE researchers found some surprising things. For one, people who ate a higher-fat diet were 23 percent less likely to die than those who restricted their fat intake. And, the researchers say, eating a high-carb diet, heavy in foods like rice, pasta, and bread was much riskier in terms of cardiovascular health and mortality.
Lobelo is nor surprised, but he's also not sure the PURE findings will leading to major changes in dietary guidelines.
"The bottom line here is this is another piece of the puzzle," he says. "No one study is going to change 50 years of nutrition knowledge. But we're finding that reduction in carbohydrates as a public health message is more important than the prevailing message of limiting fats."
Because Lobelo says, a high-carb diet -- especially one that includes processed foods, can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, raising our risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Don't go loading up on the butter just yet.
"Again, this is not carte blanche to go consume more fats and animal products, because we already do (that too much)," Lobelo says. "But we're definitely relying too much on refined carbohydrates and carbohydrates in our diet. And those probably need to be substituted for more fruits and vegetables."