Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: “Young Indians need to gear up and take a call on ‘balance of good and bad fats’, specially because the average age at which we are getting heart attacks has come down drastically over the years,” said the Director of Cardiology at Max Devki Devi Heart and Vascular Institute, Dr. Praveen Chandra, at the ninth Health Writers-2007 workshop here earlier this week.

The workshop was aimed at developing integrated thinking on the importance of cardiac care in modern society and to study the pros and cons of the Indian diet.

Unhealthy snack

“Compared to the Western diet, the Indian diet is often blamed for not being consistent in nutrition and calories. Unhealthy snack culture is on the rise with saturated and trans-fat contents going unchecked in ‘vanaspati’-cooked food products. Excessive body fats increase chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other illness,” Dr. Chandra cautioned.

In a nation where over 50 per cent of the population consists of the youth and the incidence of heart attack has come down, he said, there is still sufficient cause for concern. “With changing lifestyles, we are adding fried food to an already existing tradition of rich food. Result is the rising incidence in coronary heart disease in the community -- particularly in young men -- which is almost twice as high as their western counterparts,” he warned.

Room temperature

According to experts, it is the quality of ‘fats’ that is not understood by common people. While the good fats are mono-saturated and polyunsaturated fats which are liquid at room temperature, the bad fats – saturated fats and trans-fats – remain solid at room temperature.

Former Deputy Director of the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, B. Siva Kumar said “at a time when our country is passing through health transition with metabolic syndrome looming large, we must take stock of the situation and act speedily”.