Roundup: Low-Carb Diet Healthier, Compared to Low-Fat, Study Says; Coffee's Health Benefits Stronger for People Over 45

A major new study found that dietitians, physicians and other health experts should be advising people to lower the amount of carbohydrates they eat — and possibly focus less on high-fat diets.

The new study, which involved 135,000 people from 18 different countries, found that people who eat high quantities of carbohydrates, which are found in breads, pasta and rice, had a nearly 30 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than people eating a low-carb diet, according to results from a new study comparing the impact of high-fat and high-carb diets.

Meanwhile, people eating high-fat diets — about 35 percent of their daily consumption — had a 23 percent lower chance of dying during the study’s seven years of follow-up, compared to people who ate less fat.

Overall, the average diet among all participants was made up of 61 percent carbohydrates, 23 percent fat and 15 percent protein.

“The study showed that contrary to popular belief, increased consumption of dietary fats is associated with a lower risk of death,” lead author Mahshid Dehghan, an investigator with the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario.

The study did not take trans fats into account, which are considered unhealthy and contribute to cardiovascular disease. Too much fat, especially the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal meat, dairy products and cheese, can clog up arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and obesity.

The U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of total daily calories. For an adult on a 2,000-calorie per day diet, the target fat-calorie range is 400 to 700 calories. Fat contains nine calories per gram. A general rule of thumb is that the higher level of your fat intake will be around .4 to .5 grams per pound of your target body weight.

The study’s researchers found that high-carbohydrate diets are common, with more than half of the participants getting 70 percent of their daily calories from carbs.

Sugar is classified under carbohydrates on nutrition labels found on most food products. Over the past 30 years, Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets, which has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Dietitians recommend reducing the amount of added sugars to improve heart health and control weight.

Healthy carbohydrates are those that provide nutrients, while limiting fat, sodium and added sugar. They are found in unprocessed whole grains and cereals, and starchy vegetables, fresh fruit, dried beans and peas, and plain milk or nondairy beverages.

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Coffee’s Health Benefits Stronger for People Over 45

Many studies have added to a brew of good news for coffee drinkers. And now new research has found that adults 45 or older who drink four cups of coffee a day have a 64 percent lower risk of an early death, compared to those those who don’t drink the beverage, according to a study conducted in Spain.

The new study analyzed health data and dietary habits of nearly of 20,000 Spanish university graduates who were involved in a long-term research project. They were followed for an average of 10 years.

Those who drank the most coffee (four or more cups a day) were 64 percent less likely to die within 10 years than those who drank the least (seldom or never) coffee. The numbers are striking. Overall, every two cups of coffee consumed per day by a single person was linked to a 22 percent lower risk of death over 10 years.

That association to a lower risk of an early death did not change even after researchers considered factors such as gender, smoking status and whether the coffee drinkers added sugar to their coffee.

However, the benefits were largely confined to older participants: For adults who were at least 45 when the study began, every two cups of coffee per day was associated with an approximate 30 percent lower risk of dying over the next 10 years. In those younger than 45, “the association was not significant.”

The new research was presented last weekend at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal as is customary with most large studies of this type.

“Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people,” said Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

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Fatherhood After Age 40 is Becoming More Common

Middle-aged new dads represent a growing trend. The average age of dads of newborns grew by three and a half years over the 44-year period between 1972 and 2015, from 27.4 years to 30.9 years, a new study has found.

Stanford’s School of Medicine analyzed nearly 170 million American births over those four decades. The study, published this week in the journal Human Reproduction, also found the percentage of newborns born to dads older than 40 more than doubled from 4.1 percent to 8.9 percent. Dads over 50 account for 0.9 percent of babies today, up slightly from 0.5 percent four decades ago.

Overall, twice as many dads of newborns are now in the 40-plus age group, compared to the 1970s.

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