Swapping animal fats for plant fats in your diet can reduce your risk of premature death by 24-26 percent, according to a study.
The study from Harvard University found that plant-based fats – including the fat found in avocados and olive oil – can reduce a person’s risk of premature death.
The study also broadly suggested how eating different types of fat might affect lifespan.
Researchers gathered data from 93,000 men and women, analyzing information from 22 years of research.
Two data sources were used: the first was from 1990–2012, featuring information from 63,412 females in the Nurses’ Health Study.
The second – which featured information from 29,966 men – was taken from a Health Professionals Study which took place between 1990-2010.
The records contained detailed information about participants’ diets, which was collected every four years.
In the study, the risks were adjusted to account for several known factors that could influence the risk of death.
These included ethnicity; smoking status; intake of alcohol, fruits and vegetables and total calories; family history of chronic diseases; physical activity; body mass index; and heart disease risk factors when participants enrolled.
After analyzing the data, the results suggest that replacing animal monounsaturated fats with plant-based sources, could reduce the risk of premature death by 24-to-26 percent.
Additionally, ‘a diet rich in plant-based monounsaturated fats reduces the risk of an early death by 16 percent compared with diets low in these nutrients’.
The research also found that replacing two-five percent of calories with plant-based fats could be linked to a 10-to-15 percent higher survival rate.
The scientists note that the study ‘does not directly compare the nutritional content of plant versus animal-based fats’.
More plant fats
Marta Guasch-Ferré, Ph.D., a research associate and one of the lead authors of the study, said: “Our results emphasize the importance of the source and quantity of mono-unsaturated fatty acids in the diet.
“We should eat more mono-unsaturated fatty acids from plant sources and less mono-unsaturated fatty acids from animal sources.”
The researchers noted that the results should be interpreted with caution because the study relied on the participants’ self-reporting what they ate and because participants consuming higher amounts of plant-based foods may be more health conscious in general.