Diabetes risk lowered by eating healthy fats instead of carbs or saturated fats

by Bruce Sylvester: Results from a meta-analysis of relevant studies suggest that consumption of unsaturated fats instead of either saturated fats or carbohydrates could help  prevent and manage  type 2 diabetes.

The findings appeared published in PLOS Medicine on July 19, 2016.

Investigator Fumiaki Imamura, Ph.D, of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK said, “Until now, our understanding of how dietary fats and carbohydrate influence glucose, insulin, and related risk factors has been based on individual studies with inconsistent findings. By combining results from more than 100 trials, we provide the strongest evidence to-date on how major nutrients alter these risks.”

The researchers evaluated results from 102 randomized controlled trials in which 4,660 adult subjects were  provided with meals varying in the types and amounts of fats and carbohydrates.

The team evaluated the combined data in order to identify  how dietary variations affected metabolic health, including blood sugar, blood insulin, insulin resistance and sensitivity, and ability to produce insulin in response to blood sugar.

They found that exchanging a diet rich in carbohydrates or saturated fats for a diet rich in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat improved key markers for blood glucose control.

Notably, for each five percent of dietary energy switched from carbohydrates or saturated fats to mono- or polyunsaturated fats, they found  an approximately 0.1 percent reduction in HbA1c.

Prior research has suggested that each 0.1 percent reduction in HbA1c is estimated to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent and cardiovascular diseases by 6.8 percent.

“The world faces an epidemic of insulin resistance and diabetes,” said investigator by Dariush Mozaffarian M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. “Our findings support preventing and treating these diseases by eating more fat-rich foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, flaxseed, fish, and other vegetable oils and spreads, in place of refined grains, starches, sugars, and animal fats.”

“This is a positive message for the public,” Mozaffarian added. “Don’t fear healthy fats.”