New Study Finds Fat Vital for Health

New Study Tracks Diets of Thousands across 18 Countries

There’s a large new study making waves about the relationship between dietary fats, carbs, and health. The research found that higher fat intake was associated with lower risk of death. Inversely, higher carbohydrate intake was associated with a higher risk of death.

Hyperbolic headlines about the new research are suggesting that a “low-fat diet could kill you” accompanied by images of double cheeseburgers, pizza, and buckets of butter.

The Real Take-Away

It’s extremely doubtful that any Registered Dietitian on planet Earth will see this study and being urging clients to massively increase their intake of bacon and ice cream.

The real take-away from the study is confirmation that fat does have an important role in the diet. But it’s not just the amount that matters, to confer real and lasting benefits the type of fat is important too.

For a long time, scientists have known fish and shellfish are the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, in the American diet. These healthy polyunsaturated fats are necessary for myriad functions, such as baby brain and eye development during pregnancy. Even better, consuming these healthy fats are among so many other benefits of eating fish.

Better Reporting

Markets Insider digs deeper than other outlets and includes reporting on other studies about fats and health as well.

They quote a Harvard nutrition professor who authored a 2016 study as saying:

  • “Not all fats are created equal.”
  • “We should eat more good ones from fish and avocados, instead of animal fats.”

Similarly, News.com.au provides tips for getting the recommended amount of fat in the diet:

  • “The best evidence available suggests that a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, in addition to fat coming from nuts and seeds, oily fish and avocado will give us a daily intake of 30-35 per cent of predominantly good fats.”

The Benefits of Eating Fish

One of the easiest ways to ensure Americans get sufficient (healthy) fat in their diet is by eating more fish. Currently, only 10% of Americans meet the USDA recommendation to eat fish 2-3 times per week.

Science has already shown that low seafood consumption is the second-largest dietary contributor to preventable deaths in the U.S., taking 84,000 lives each year. (For perspective, low intake of fruits and vegetables takes 58,000 lives each year.) There’s no doubt the healthy polyunsaturated fats found in fish play a role here.

If you come across this study in the press, don’t take the easy road and mentally add another frozen pizza to your grocery list. Instead, consider the continuous body of independent science that shows certain fats are vital to your health, and add more of those, including fish, olive oil, and avocados, to your list. It’s encouraging to see the benefits of eating fish continue to be showcased in the latest research.