Some Fat is Good

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By: Miranda Schwartz

Evidence that moderate amounts of dietary fat intake is OK is popping up everywhere. Several studies indicate that severely restricting fat to lower cholesterol won’t prevent heart disease caused by cholesterol any better than moderately cutting fat.

The evidence suggests that low-fat diets don’t lower cholesterol any better than diets that moderately cut back on fat, and that low-fat diets might even be unhealthy. A year-long study by Robert Knopp of the University of Washington in November’s Journal of the American Medical Association found no major differences in cholesterol levels between individuals with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels who cut caloric intake from dietary fat to 30 percent and participants with high cholesterol who cut dietary fat to 26 percent.

A potentially harmful side effect of severely cutting fat intake was lowered “good” cholesterol levels and increased triglyceride levels. Good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol seems to protect against heart disease.

Also, a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine states that, “Replacement of fat by carbohydrates has not been shown to reduce the risk of coronary disease.”

Barry Sears, PhD, author of the “Zone” diet books, has advocated low-carbohydrate and high-fat diets for some time now. He believes eating a high-fat diet reduces the risk of heart disease. He also believes that a diet high in saturated fat has no effect on heart disease if one consumes adequate amounts of fiber. He notes that weight loss and exercise lower triglyceride levels more effectively than restricting dietary fat.

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