The ideal "formula" for a healthy diet is not yet available. But Harvard researchers are on track. In a first round of research, they looked at fat and carbohydrates and found that they were important – but not as previously thought.
What diet is the healthiest? While some swear in non-fat, others trust low carbohydrates, Mediterranean diet or stone age foods. Some of these philosophies contradict very basic assumptions, for example when it comes to the question of fat being unhealthy or appropriate. This confuses many people who want to eat as healthy as possible.
Researchers around David Ludwig of Harvard Medical School in Boston have also acknowledged this problem and were looking for a solution. They wondered: Is not it necessary to reach a scientific consensus on how much fat is actually recommended?
The amount is not so important
To this end, a team of experts from different disciplines and partly opposite views put together and evaluated previous facts about the subject. The result is a set of basic guidelines that scientists believe can serve as a formula for a healthy diet.
Specifically, they come to the following conclusions: If low carbohydrate or low fat appears to be less crucial than is often assumed. "Current data suggest that there is no ideal relationship between fat and carbohydrates in the diet that is perfect for everyone," the researchers say. "In addition, no diet or calorie source has the same metabolic effects in all humans."
A healthy body weight and low risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and co, which can reach most people with a large number of carb-fat conditions.
Trans fat is taboo
However, one exception is individuals with insulin resistance typical of type 2 diabetes and its precursors. These patients may have been shown to benefit especially from a low fat carbohydrate fat diet. The same applies to patients with glucose intolerance as well as to persons whose body produces excess insulin.
Overall, the type of fat consumed seems to be more important than the amount. For example, saturated fatty acids should be replaced with unsaturated, as Ludwig and his colleagues emphasize. And: "Manufactured trans fats are harmful and should be banned from diet," they write.
Put on whole grains
In addition, they are less surprising recommendations for a healthy diet: to consume as little sugar as possible and to replace refined, highly processed carbohydrates with full-bodied options. In other words: Instead of white flour, polished rice, table sugar and sam, whole grains, fruit and above all vegetables should end up on the plate.
According to the researchers, these principles are a good basis. Nevertheless, a lot of details should be clarified in further studies. For example, do different conditions affect carbohydrates to fats, regardless of calorie intake, the composition of body tissues?
How accurate can the metabolism of diabetics benefit from a ketogenic diet? And what fat composition is optimal for those people who eat extremely low carbohydrate? "If we find the answers to these questions, we can derive further nutritional recommendations," concludes the team. (Science, 2018; doi: 10.1126 / science.aau2096)
This article was written by DAL
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