The average Indian loves to gorge on samosas, puffs, sweets and many more delicacies. Unfortunately as tasty as these might be, they cause more harm than good. In Kerala alone, more than 1.5 lakh individuals fall prey to heart disease every year and more than 110 people lose their lives to heart attacks almost every day. The numbers are staggering.
Cardiovascular disease is a global epidemic and diet is one of the most important modifiable risk factors. The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study published in the acclaimed international journal The Lancet turns decades of conventional advice on its head. The study found that on average, globally; people got more than 60 per cent of their energy from carbohydrates and 24 percent from fats. 1,35,000 participants were selected from 18 countries across the Middle East, South America, Africa, China, North America and Europe and South Asia and the study was conducted over 7 years. The study found that people getting an average of 77 per cent of their energy from carbohydrates had a 28 percent higher risk of death compared to low carbohydrate diets (46 percent energy from carbohydrates). The results suggested that rather than focusing on reducing fat intake in diets, guidelines should instead focus on reducing carbohydrate intake, particularly in low and middle-income countries where carbohydrate intake was the highest. The global study provides the clearest sign yet that you are what you eat.
The unintended consequence of telling everyone to restrict fat was that people ate an even greater amount of carbohydrates. Now what is it that can be done? Cutting down on sugar, bread, potatoes and rice is the key dietary change that should be implemented to optimise health. The best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats - approximately 50-55 percent carbohydrates and around 35 percent total fat.
Perhaps the world’s healthiest diet, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with good health, including a healthier heart. Studies have found that people following this diet had a 30% lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The Mediterranean Diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry, lean sources of protein over red meat.
We should finally remember that we can have some fats in our diet but must avoid foods rich in trans fatty acids. These are often loaded with empty calories. Eat fresh, eat healthy and eat in moderation: that should be our motto.
Let Moderation be our guide.
Practice moderation in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.