Widely known as the number one cause of death around the world, heart disease is an interesting epidemic, particularly because the risk of suffering a cardiovascular problem is largely determined by diet and lifestyle.
In 2010, an estimated annual 711 800 deaths worldwide were from coronary heart disease (CHD). All were attributed to low omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) consumption, instead of saturated fat (SFA) or carbohydrates, representing 10.3% of total global CHD deaths.
Additionally, it was estimated that 250 900 CHD deaths per year were attributed to high SFA consumption in place of omega-6 PUFA, representing 3.6% of global CHD deaths. High trans-fat (TFA) consumption was estimated to cause 537 200 CHD deaths per year worldwide, accounting for 7.7% of global CHD deaths.
Large regional causation differences were present. For example, in some countries the number of lives that are estimated to be saved by increasing omega-6 PUFA was more than 15 times that of what could be achieved by reducing SFA. With these findings in mind, national dietary recommendations should choose their key messages accordingly (for example, prioritising higher consumption of PUFA-rich foods over measures to lower dietary SFA intake).
This comprehensive modelling study confirms that low omega-6 PUFA, high TFA, and, to a lesser extent, high SFA intakes are significantly contributing to CHD mortality on a global scale. The data also shows that encouraging intakes of heart-healthy vegetable oils rich in omega-6 and low in saturated and trans-fat can provide important public health benefits.
Wang Q, Afshin A, Yakoob MY, Singh GM, Rehm CD, Khatibzadeh S, Micha R, Shi P, Mozaffarian D; Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE). Impact of Nonoptimal Intakes of Saturated, Polyunsaturated, and Trans Fat on Global Burdens of Coronary Heart Disease Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 20; 5(1).
For more information on heart health and healthy living, be sure to take a look at Unilever Health’s nutrition and wellness resources here.