Some Fats Are Good For Weight Loss

Although low-fat diets are recommended for heart health, a moderate-fat, weight-loss diet reduced dieters' cardiovascular risk better than a low-fat diet, according to a recent study from Penn State.

The moderate-fat diet, in which half the fat was monounsaturated fat from peanuts and peanut oil, produced a 14 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.

The group consuming the low-fat diet experienced a 9 percent improvement. Both of these diets were controlled so that all participants lost about the same amount of weight, approximately 2.4 to 2.7 pounds per week on average.

Fifty-three overweight or obese men and women participated in the study. All of the participants had total cholesterol levels elevated above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg./dl.) at the start of the diet. They ate either a low-fat or a moderate-fat diet designed to produce weight loss for six weeks and then similar diets designed for maintenance of weight for four weeks.

The foods, supplied by the researchers, provided 18 percent of calories from fat in the low-fat diet or 33 percent of calories from fat in the moderate-fat diet.

Over the course of the study, the low-fat diet group experienced a 12 percent decrease in high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), the "good cholesterol," but the moderate-fat diet group experienced no change. This indicates that a moderate-fat diet blunts the decrease in HDL-C during weight loss.

After triglyceride levels fell during the weight-loss phase, they became significantly elevated during the maintenance phase for those participants on the low-fat diet but not for those on the moderate-fat diet. (Elevated triglycerides are a cardiovascular risk factor.)

The study indicated that markedly lowering total fat intake might have adverse consequences on reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease, even in response to weight loss.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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