It’s a debate that has raged in health circles for years: which is worse, fat or sugar?
In the late 20th century and early 2000s, fat was vilified after it was frequently linked to heart disease and high cholesterol.
But recent research has identified sugar as the enemy, with high-fat diets like keto being praised by the scientific community.
A new study claims to have put the debate to the extreme test – by examining which kills you faster, a high-fat diet or a high-carbohydrate diet.
Researchers have found that a low-fat diet can significantly increase a person’s lifespan, while a low-carbohydrate diet actually increases the risk of early death (file photo)
Researchers have found that a low-fat diet can reduce the risk of death by up to 34 percent each year. Meanwhile, low-carb diets increased the risk of death by up to 38 percent.
“Our findings support the importance of maintaining a healthy LFD with less saturated fat in preventing all-cause and cause-specific mortality in middle-aged and elderly people,” the researchers wrote.
‘All in this study [low fat diet] Scores were associated with lower all-cause mortality, indicating significant health benefits of reducing dietary fat for health restoration.
“Our results were similar to those of several previous large-scale prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, which also suggested a reduction in saturated fat in the diet.”
In their study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, collaborated with Chinese scientists.
They collected data from the 1990s on 371,159 Americans who were between the ages of 50 and 71 when the study began.
Using the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, a study started in 1995 to measure the links between diet and chronic disease in the elderly, they looked for links between diet and longevity.
In the study, participants were asked how often they ate 124 different foods.
Using the information, the researchers calculated how often a person consumes carbohydrates and fat.
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Participants were divided into groups, with the 20 percent who ate the least carbohydrates included in a control group and compared to the 20 percent who ate the most carbohydrates.
They went on to categorize people into a “healthy” or “unhealthy” low-fat or low-carb diet based on whether they were fed foods from “high” or “low” sources.
For example, someone who eats a low-fat diet and eats lots of lean meat and vegetables would be eating a “healthy” diet, while someone eating refined sugars and processed foods would be considered an “unhealthy” diet.
They found that people who ate a low-fat diet, whether they were healthy or not, significantly reduced their risk of early death compared to people on a high-fat diet.
The risk of dying from any cause each year decreased by 21 percent among people who ate a low-fat diet. A healthy diet reduced the risk of death by 34 percent.
Those on an unhealthy, low-fat diet still had an eight percent reduction in mortality risk compared to their counterparts on an unhealthy, high-fat diet.
Meanwhile, a low-carb diet was a route to an early death. People on the ketogenic diet were 28 percent more likely to die from any cause than their high-carb counterparts.
Participants on an unhealthy low-carb diet increased their risk of death by 38 percent each year.
Low-fat diets have long been a favorite of people trying to lose weight and improve their overall health.
These diets focus on eating fruits, vegetables and lean meats while avoiding fatty oils.
Saturated fats and trans fats in particular are labeled as best to avoid. The former is commonly found in red meat, butter, cheese and whole milk. The latter is common in processed and fried foods.
However, there are some healthy fats. The mono- and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish and nuts are known to help maintain cholesterol levels and improve brain health.
Fat can also be used as a source of energy for the body, with some claiming that training the body to use it as a primary source of energy is healthier.
This led to the rise of the ketogenic diet – also known as “keto”.
The first to gain notoriety was the Atkins diet, developed in the 1960s by cardiologist Robert Atkins.
These diets severely limit the number of carbohydrates a person eats, and instead eat large amounts of protein and fat.
People on keto drop sugar, bread, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and broccoli and other high-carb foods.
Instead, their diet consists of meat, eggs, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
While keto has gained some high-profile supporters like NBA star LeBron James and beauty mogul Kim Kardashian, there have also been plenty of skeptics.
Crystal Leahy is an author and health journalist who writes for The Fashion Vibes. With a background in health and wellness, Crystal has a passion for helping people live their best lives through healthy habits and lifestyles.