It’s hard to know how to maintain a heart-healthy diet when the recommendations seem to change based on who you ask. For years, we were assured that the saturated fats found in butter, red meat and fried foods were bad; yet, guidelines then shifted, as there simply wasn’t enough evidence that giving up foods such as these had any real positive impact on heart health. So, we were given the go-ahead to opt for butter instead of margarine once more.
However, as shared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers clarify that a lack of noticeable benefits in reducing saturated fats is most likely related to exchanging those fats for other poor food choices – like refined carbs. Those who replaced saturated fats with healthier selections, such as whole grains and polyunsaturated fats, were able to achieve a lowered risk of heart disease by a full 25%.
Per Adela Hruby, a researcher in the study, “We know that people don’t just drop 10% of their calories…and not replace them with other things. What they are adding in to replace what they’re not eating is really important.”
The research, led by Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was extensive, tracking the results of as many as 130,000 men and women over a period of three decades. The study followed participants’ dietary choices and any existing heart conditions, and found that those who replaced saturated fats with carbohydrates had a nearly equal risk of heart disease – a fact that was missed in previous research that found it was not significantly helpful to reduce the intake of saturated fats.
So, what’s to be learned from all of this? It may be that we should not only reduce the amount of saturated fat we consume, but to also choose healthy substitutes over processed carbs and foods containing high amounts of sugar.
Senior HomeCare of Tucson is always available to assist older adults improve their heart health by planning and preparing nutritious meals, as well as home care services such as:
- Grocery shopping to ensure that healthy, fresh foods are always on hand
- Medication reminders
- Encouragement and motivation to stay physically active
- Transportation and accompaniment to doctor appointments and other outings
- And so much more