Fats & fatty acids in Indian diets: Time for serious introspection
Recommended dietary allowances for fat and fatty acid (FA) intakes are set on global standards aimed at prevention of lifestyle diseases. Yet, the fat composition of a diet is both ethnic/region specific as well as income dependent. Indian diets are predominantly vegetarian and relatively low in fat. Furthermore, the main sources of fat are of plant origin rather than animal origin. This results in a diet that is relatively low in saturated FA, high in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and very low in n-3 PUFA. Though this appears as a good dietary composition as per global standards, the undeniable increase in the incidence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in India begs for an explanation. In this context, the current article is aimed at reopening the debate on fat intakes in Indian diets, with a focus on a balance between fats, carbohydrates and proteins, rather than an emphasis on individual macronutrients.