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Healthy Fats May Be Better than Low Fat


New research has shown that it may be more beneficial for people with risk factors for heart disease to consume healthy fats-from olive oil and certain nuts-than to consume low-fat diets. The study looked at 769 men and women, ages 55 to 80, who had risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and being overweight.

The participants were put into three groups. One group followed a low-fat diet, one followed a Mediterranean diet that had olive oil as the main source of fat and one group followed a Mediterranean diet that that had walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds and the primary source of fat. At the end of three months, the people in the two Mediterranean diet groups showed a small increase in HDL (good) cholesterol, while the low-fat group showed a lowering of HDL. Even more striking was that the Mediterranean diet groups showed a decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in blood sugar levels, two factors that remained the same in the group on the low-fat diet.

A Mediterranean diet generally includes fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It strictly limits red meat and processed foods, and it includes unsaturated fats, such as those found in olives and nuts.

Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2006
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