Choosing Fats Wisely Can Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease

choosing fats wiselyAlways reaching for the skim milk? Think again. The connection between dairy fat and heart disease may be more complicated than you thought.

This is according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The report combined data from 220,000 participants in three separate studies that investigated the relationship between dairy fat and heart disease.

In contrast to previous reports, the researchers found no direct link between the consumption of dairy fat and the development of heart disease. However, replacing dairy fat with vegetable fat or polyunsaturated fat decreased the risk of heart disease by 10% and 24%, respectively. When fat calories were replaced with complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, the risk of heart disease decreased by 28%. On the other hand, substituting other animal fats such as red meat instead of dairy fat increased the risk of heart disease by 6%.

This research suggests that the consumption—or non-consumption—of dairy fats is only one piece of the puzzle about diet and the heart. Dairy fats may not be as bad as previously reported—but they don’t lower the risk of heart disease either. It is clear that you can improve your heart health by substituting dairy fat with calories from other sources like vegetable oils and whole grains. If you really love full-fat dairy products, though, use them in moderation.

Monitoring your daily intake of fat from dairy products is just one component of maintaining a healthy diet. Here are some tips for heart-healthy eating:

  • Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Choose good sources of protein such as nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, and fish
  • Limit intake of saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt
  • Replace animal fats with unsaturated fats such as olive and sesame oils
  • Remember, a heart-healthy diet is just one part of a healthy lifestyle.

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