Fat, it turns out, is good for you. Or at least it's not as bad as we previously thought, per a sweeping new study that suggests low-fat diets could increase the risk of early death, the Telegraph reports. The surprising findings published in the Lancet suggest that instead of limiting fat intake, we should be counting carbs. Low-fat diets "put populations at increased risk for cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Andrew Mente from Canada's McMaster University. Overturning dietary guidelines the world over, the research of Mente and his team indicates that a higher consumption of fats, even saturated fats like those found in meat and butter, reduces chances of dying earlier. The scientists who tracked 135,000 adults in 18 countries found that those who got more than 60% of their calories from carbohydrates, such as sugary drinks and processed foods like pasta and bread, had a 28% chance of dying early.
Those who consumed high levels of fats, even the saturated kind, saw their risk of early death drop by 23%. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the seven-year study found no link between fat consumption alone and heart disease or stroke, CBC News reports. But in a notable limitation, researchers were unable to measure levels of trans fat, often linked to heart disease, in study subjects. Study co-author Dr. Mahshid Dehghan says that when lowering fat consumption, people "by default" eat more carbs. He called for "relaxing current restrictions on fat and emphasizing ... carbohydrate intake." The "sweet spot," Mente adds, per the Telegraph, is maintaining a balanced diet, with about 35% of calories coming from fat. (For a longer life, go Japanese.)