Beyond Elimination Dieting Moderation Is Key

According to this research, a diet that includes a moderate intake of fat and fruits and vegetables, and avoidance of high carbohydrates, is associated with lower risk of death

For decades, fats were vilified as the evil food to be avoided at all costs. In the last few years, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and carbs are now the villains of the food world. From low-fat diets to low-carb diets, there always seems to be some drastic new approach to weight loss and dieting.

According to new research from McMaster University, that elimination approach to dieting is all wrong.

Research reveals that moderation is the key to good health.

Scientists, using data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, examined the dietary habits of more than 135,000 people from 18 countries—low, middle, and high-income countries alike. The survey gathered data on the broadest possible spectrum of people, ensuring applicable results across the board.

This data provided some fascinating insights:

Dietary fats are excellent for your health. Not only were fats not associated with higher risk of major cardiovascular disorders, they were proven to decrease mortality rates. Saturated fat, previously demonized, was directly associated with lower stroke risk, and all types of natural fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated) helped to increase lifespan.

Veggies, fruits, and legumes are vital. Research indicated that those who consumed the highest amounts of veggies, fruits, and legumes (375 to 500 grams) had the lowest risk of death from all diseases. Fruit intake was most strongly associated with these benefits, but veggies and legumes helped to decrease cardiovascular risk specifically.

As the researcher said, “Eating even one serving (of legumes) per day decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Raw vegetable intake was more strongly associated with a lower risk of death. Our results indicate that recommendations should emphasize raw vegetable intake over cooked.

What does this mean? Simple: fats are back on the menu, and some carbohydrates (those from fruits, veggies, and legumes) can be excellent for your health. Eating a diet high in these natural fats and complex carbohydrates—fruits, raw veggies, and legumes—can extend your lifespan and drastically decrease mortality risk.

Andrew Mente, an investigator at PHRI and an associate professor of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster, is an author on the three studies.

“The findings of these studies are robust, globally applicable and provide evidence to inform nutrition policies. This is relevant because in some parts of the world nutritional inadequacy is a problem, whereas in other parts of the world nutritional excesses may be the problem,” he said.

“Most people in the world consume three to four servings of fruits, vegetables and legumes a day. This target is likely more affordable and achievable, especially in low and middle income countries where the costs of fruits and vegetables are relatively high.”

“Moderation in most aspects of diet is to be preferred, as opposed to very low or very high intakes of most nutrients,” said Salim Yusuf, principal investigator of the study and the director of the PHRI.


1. Salim Yusuf, DPhil et al. “Fruit, vegetable, and legume intake, and cardiovascular disease and deaths in 18 countries (PURE): a prospective cohort study.” The Lancet, August 2017. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32253-5.