A new study shows reducing the risk of coronary heart disease can be as simple as making a few easy changes to your diet. By replacing saturated fats often found in dairy and red meat with high-quality carbohydrates and various unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, and other vegetable oils, you reduce your chances of developing serious heart issues.
This study was performed by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health. The team engaged in the study for 24 to 30 years, and experienced a significant amount of analyzed data backing their conclusion.
There have been other recent studies which did not find any correlation between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease—creating quite a buzz and an eventual TIME magazine cover story. However, in this most recent study, researchers say those previous results could be that the type of carbs and fat used to replace saturated fats affects heart disease risk differently.
This study was the first of its kind in the way it analyzed saturated vs. unsaturated fats. It included 84 healthy women who were enrolled in a Nurses’ Health Study and 42,908 healthy men who were taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. None of the people in the study had any history of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
They regularly completed food frequency questionnaires—providing information about their lifestyle, medical state, and diet. During the course of the study, 7,667 people contracted coronary heart disease.
At the end of the study, researchers found when subjects lowered the amount of saturated fats they were eating, they would replace these calories with low-quality carbs like white bread, potatoes, or rice, rather than unsaturated fats, or whole grain carbs. Therefore, removing saturated fats from the diet did not necessarily help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease if people did not replace them with higher quality foods. Those people who did raise their intake of whole grain carbs and unsaturated fats, did experience a lowered risk of heart disease.
This is just more evidence that olive oil should be a staple in diets everywhere. It’s time to exchange fatty butter and dressings, and place your order for a high-quality bottle of extra virgin olive oil today!