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Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Date:3/18/2010

But researcher adds it's still a good choice for losing weight

THURSDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- The latest report from a massive trial to determine the health value of a low-fat diet comes to the unexciting conclusion that it is probably not bad for your heart.

Such an eating regimen had almost no effect on cholesterol levels, according to a report in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a national trial that gave some women intensive training and education on eating a low-fat diet and compared their health with women who didn't change their eating habits.

The best that study author Barbara V. Howard, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University, could say for a low-fat diet was that it didn't make things worse as far as affecting blood levels of good fats, such as HDL cholesterol, and bad fats, such as triglycerides.

"This diet did not raise triglycerides and didn't lower HDL cholesterol," Howard said. "It didn't do any of the adverse things that high-fat people have claimed."

In addition, women who lowered intake of specific kinds of fats -- saturated fats and trans fatty acids -- did have lower a lower rate of heart disease, she said.

And eating a low-fat diet might make it easier to lose weight, which is important because of the current American epidemic of obesity, Howard noted.

"If you start out eating too many calories and you cut fat, that automatically makes you eat a higher-carbohydrate diet," she said. "If a person wants to reduce weight and is comfortable with cutting fat, that is a good strategy."

Begun in 1991, the WHI was initially designed to determine the effect of a low-fat diet on cancer risk, with heart disease reduction a secondary goal. In 2006, the first results showed there was no effect on cancer risk.

In the trial, women who followed the low-fat regimen consu
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