Scientists from the University of Cambridge found that the intake of healthy fats in diets may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas.
The condition has strong genetic and family-related risk factors and is also often associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors.
People may be able to significantly slow or even halt the progression of the condition through changes to diet and increasing the amount of physical activity they do.
How dietary fat and carbohydrates influence metabolic health has been controversial.
This leads to confusion about specific dietary guidelines and priorities.
In the current study, researchers aimed to do a systematic evaluation of all available evidence to clarify the effects of dietary fat (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat), and carbohydrates on the risk of diabetes.
Dietary fat contains more than double the kilojoules (energy) per gram than carbohydrates and protein.
Animal products and some processed foods, especially fried fast food, are generally high in saturated fats, which have been linked to increased blood cholesterol levels.
Previous research found replacing foods high in saturated fats with alternatives higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tends to improve blood cholesterol levels.
In this study, the team wanted to see how dietary fats affect blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and the ability to produce insulin.
The researchers summarized the findings of 102 published studies, which included a total of 4,660 participants.
These studies provided meals varying in the types and levels of fat and carbohydrate to evaluate how such variations affected various measures of blood glucose control, insulin sensitivity, and ability to produce insulin.
The team found that exchanging dietary carbohydrates with saturated fat does not benefit influence markers of blood glucose control.
On the other hand, replacing carbohydrates and saturated fat with a diet rich in unsaturated fat, particularly polyunsaturated fat, could help with the regulation of blood sugar.
This study suggests that more unsaturated fat intake in place of either carbohydrates or saturated fats will help improve blood glucose control.
A sole emphasis on lowering the consumption of carbohydrates or saturated fats would not be optimal.
These findings support the benefits of increasing the consumption of vegetable oils and spreads, nuts, fish, and vegetables rich in unsaturated fats (e.g., avocado), in place of either animal fats or refined grains, starches, and sugars.
The researchers suggest that these findings may help inform scientists, clinicians, and the public about dietary fats and carbohydrates and metabolic health.
The research was published in PLOS Medicine and conducted by Fumiaki Imamura et al.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies that eating more eggs is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about high-protein diet linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by 30%.
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