A new Finnish study shows that boys who were fed a low-saturated-fat diet from infancy through their first 10 years had lower cholesterol levels, healthier arteries, and a lower risk of stroke than those fed normal diets.
Researchers say the results suggest that a diet designed to lower cholesterol levels can have long-term beneficial effects in children growing up in an area with high rates of heart disease, such as Finland.
Low-Fat Diet May Build Healthier Hearts
In the study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers randomly divided about 1,000 healthy 7-month-old babies into two groups. The parents of one group received counseling and instruction on feeding their infants a diet low in saturated fat, and the infants in the other served as a comparison group and were fed normal diets.
Saturated fat in the low-fat diet group was limited to about 30% of daily calories from fat. In the comparison group, daily intake of saturated fat was unrestricted and was consistently higher than 30%.
When the children were 11 years old, researchers measured artery function and cholesterol levels in almost 400 of the children. They found boys who followed the low-saturated-fat diet had healthier arteries than those who followed the unrestricted diet.
Boys who followed the low-saturated-fat diet also had significantly lower cholesterol levels.
This effect, however, was not found among girls in the study.