Diet: How Much Fat Is Healthy?

The ideal and universal formula for healthy nutrition does not exist

Especially the type of fats consumed is crucial - the amount is less crucial. (Photo: Julija Dmitrijeva / istock)
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How it matters: Whether low-carb or low-fat - there is no ideal formula for healthy nutrition here. Because whether we eat more carbohydrates or fats plays a lesser role to health than is usually assumed, as scientists report. Instead, the type of fats consumed is crucial. But their review also shows that for people with certain metabolic disorders could actually be a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet recommended.

Which diet is the healthiest? While some swear by no fat, others rely on low carb, Mediterranean diet or stone age food. Some of these philosophies contradict in very basic assumptions - for example, in terms of whether fat is unhealthy or fit. This confuses many people who want to eat as healthy as possible.

Scientists around David Ludwig from Harvard Medical School in Boston have also recognized this problem - and have been looking for a solution. They wondered: Is not it necessary to reach a scientific consensus on how much fat is actually recommended?


Quantity is not that important

For this purpose, a team of experts from different disciplines and with partly contrary views sat together and evaluated the previous findings on the subject. The result is a set of basic guidelines that the researchers believe can serve as a formula for a healthy diet.

Specifically, they come to the following conclusions: Whether low-carb or low-fat seems to be less decisive than often assumed. "Current data suggests that there is no ideal ratio of fats to carbohydrates in the diet that is ideal for all, " say the researchers. "In addition, no diet or calorie source in all people has the same metabolic effects." Display

Healthy body weight and low risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and co-die can therefore reach most people with a wide range of carbohydrate ratios.

Trans fats are taboo

An exception, however, are people with insulin resistance typical of type 2 diabetes and its precursors. These patients may have the benefit of a high fat diet with a low carbohydrate content. The same applies to patients with glucose intolerance as well as to people whose body produces too much insulin.

Overall, however, the type of fats consumed seems more important than the amount. So saturated fatty acids should be replaced as much as possible with unsaturated ones, as Ludwig and his colleagues emphasize. And: "Industrially produced trans fats are harmful and should be banned from the diet, " they write.

Put on whole grain

In addition, the less surprising recommendations for a healthy diet are: to consume as little sugar as possible and to replace refined, highly processed carbohydrates with full-fledged alternatives. In other words, instead of white flour, polished rice, table sugar and co, whole grains, fruits and especially vegetables should end up on the plate.

According to the scientists, these principles provide a good basis. Nevertheless, a great deal of detail can still be found in further studies. For example, do different ratios of carbohydrates to fats affect the composition of body tissue, regardless of caloric intake?

How exactly can the metabolism of diabetics benefit from a ketogenic diet? And what fat composition is optimal for those people who eat extremely low carbohydrate? "If we can find the answers to these questions, we can derive further nutritional recommendations, " concludes the team. (Science, 2018; Doi: 10.1126 / science.aau2096)

- Nadja Podbregar