Recent research conducted by Monash University has shed new light on women’s heart health, finding that proportional carbohydrate intake, not saturated fat, strongly impacts cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes in Australian women.
CVD is the leading cause of death among women, with poor diet playing a substantial role in its development.
The study established that for middle-aged Australian women, increasing carbohydrate intake proportionally reduced the odds of developing CVD, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and obesity.
A moderate carbohydrate intake—between 41.0 percent and 44.3 percent of total energy—corresponded to the lowest CVD risk compared to women who consumed less than 37 percent energy from carbohydrates.
The study found no significant correlation between proportional carbohydrate intake and all-cause mortality.
Moreover, the study found no association between increased proportional intake of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease or mortality in women.
Surprisingly, a higher intake of saturated fat correlated with lower odds of developing diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity.
Subheading: Contradictions and Controversies
The findings contradict much of the historical research that suggested a link between saturated fat and CVD.
Instead, the study’s outcomes align with recent meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies, which found no significant relationship between saturated fat and total mortality or CVD.
It has been suggested that historical studies may not have accounted for fiber, which is known to help prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
The Need for More Research
Sarah Zaman, a former Monash University professor now at the University of Sydney, stated that more research is necessary to adjust dietary guidelines according to sex, as many dietary trials have predominantly involved male participants or lacked sex-specific analyses.
Sarah Gribbin, the study’s first author, further emphasized that as an observational study, their findings showed association, not causation, and aimed to generate hypotheses for future research.
Emphasizing Quality in Diet
The Heart Foundation, a funder of the study, welcomed its focus on women and CVD.
Eithne Cahill, Heart Foundation manager for food and nutrition, highlighted the importance of quality in carbohydrate and fat consumption, underscoring the role of heart-healthy eating patterns over focusing on single nutrients or foods.
The study was published in Heart.
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