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Mono-unsaturated Fats from Plants May Help Reduce Risk of Heart Disease, Death

A recent study suggests that diets rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plants are associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease or other causes, when compared with diets rich in mono-unsaturated fats from animals.


Mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plants can be found in avocados, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil, as well as peanut butter. Mono-unsaturated fatty acids from animals can be found in full-fat dairy, eggs, poultry, red meats and fish.


Participants in the study included  63,412 women who took part in the Nurses' Health Study and 29,966 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Both studies included food-frequency questionnaires that were administered every four years and had a follow up period of 22 years.


During the follow up period, there were 20,672 deaths, 4,588 of which were from heart disease. After examining the data, the researchers found that participants with a higher intake of mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plants had a 16% lower risk of death from any cause, when compared with those with lower intakes. They also found that participants with a higher intake of mono-unsaturated fatty acids from animals had a 21% higher risk of death from any cause.


Finally, the researchers found that replacing saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, or trans facts with an equal number of calories from mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plants was associated with a 10% to 15% lower risk of death from any cause. They also found that replacing mono-unsaturated fatty acids from animals with an equal amount of calories of mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plants was associated with 24% to 26% lower risk of heart disease deaths and deaths from any cause.


Researchers from the Harvard School T.H. Chan of Public Health conducted the study. It was presented at the American Heart Association Meeting on March 21, 2018.

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