Moderate-Fat Diet May Be Better than Low-Fat at Reducing Heart Risks
Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle presented a study of a moderate-fat diet vs the low-fat diet recommended for diabetics and other people with the metabolic syndrome, at the American Heart Association (AHA) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, November 2009. They had randomized 71 men and women with metabolic syndrome into one of two diet arms, the first made up of 40 percent fat, 45 percent carbohydrate and 15 percent protein (the moderate-fat diet) and the other, the low-fat diet, containing 20 percent fat, 65 percent carbs and 15 percent protein as recommended by AHA organizations such. Saturated fat content was about 8 percent in each.
Alice Lichtenstein, a spokeswoman for the AHA said:
"This is a good study that essentially confirms that the current recommendations are appropriate . . . Since 2000, the AHA has been recommending not a low-fat diet, but one that is low in saturated fats and trans fatty acids."
Lichtenstein explained that people with metabolic syndrome are glucose-intolerant, meaning they can't process blood sugar well. Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets exacerbate this condition. Which makes me wonder why the American and British Diabetes Associations both recommend such a diet.
|LDL||- 3.7 mg/dL||- 11.6 mg/dL|
|HDL||- 4.9 mg/dL||- 1.9 mg/dL|
|Triglycerides||+ 13.4 mg/dL||- 28.6 mg/dL|
Which shows that the moderate-fat diet improved blood fats better than did the low-fat diet in all respects.
Talking of the medium fat diet, Dr. Alfred Bove, president of the American College of Cardiology said:
"This sort of falls within the boundaries of what we used to call the Atkins diet, which was a high-lipid and low-carb diet. Normally this kind of diet suppresses appetite, improves diabetes . . This diet looks like it does a good job of altering the negative metabolic effects of early diabetes or high carbohydrate stimulation. "
Dr Bove continued:
"Much of this we've known before, but the idea is that a moderate-fat diet is something most people can tolerate. It probably affects the way insulin is released because if you have a lot of carbohydrates in the diet, you tend to generate a lot of insulin, and insulin is the hormone that lowers blood sugar. In addition to lowering blood sugar, it also increases appetite so a lot of people on high-carb diets are restimulated to eat more."
The caveat over trans-fats is, of course, well founded. But why they still take the low-saturated fat line is beyond me since it is polyunsaturated fats that have been shown to be causative in metabolic syndrome. I can only suppose that, because trans fats were used as an artificial substitutes for saturated fats in the days before saturated fats were found to be beneficial, the two types of fat are still classed together, despite being quite different as far as heart health is concerned.
In a nutshell, trans fats are harmful; while saturated fats are beneficial. However, since this study is a small step in the right direction – lowering carbs and increasing fats, I suppose it is too much to ask that they go the whole hog in one step. If they did that, they would be admitting they had been wrong before. Much better that they change things slowly in the hope that those who have been harmed by their advice don’t notice a series of subtle changes – and sue them.
At least things are starting at last to move in the right direction. The medium-fat diet used in the trial is nothing like a properly constituted low-carb, high-fat diet. That would be too much to expect from the AHA .
But other studies over the first few years of this century have shown much more dramatic results and benefits using diets with as much as 60% of calories coming from fats, and only 8% from carbs.
Now all we need is for the establishment to get over their fear of 'saturated' fats. Removing that dogma could mean that healthy food would be more readily available in supermarkets and we might actually be able to return to a really healthy lifestyle.
1. Sharman MJ, et al. A Ketogenic Diet Favorably Affects Serum Biomarkers for Cardiovascular Disease in Normal-Weight Men. J Nutr 2002; 132: 1879-1885
Nov. 16, 2009, presentations, American Heart
Association annual meeting, Orlando, Fla.
Read the abstract here
Last updated 29 November 2009