Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fat vs. Carbs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fat vs. Carbs

Article excerpt

Yes, a new study has found that a low-carbohydrate diet helped participants drop weight faster over 12 months than a low-fat one, but let's not toss the rye bread and start frying up the eggs just yet.

Look past the headlines that the study, led by Tulane University's Dr. Lydia Bazzano and published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, has generated, and you will find that the message is not, in fact, about the importance of really cutting back on carbohydrates -- it's yet another heads up to be more careful about what we're eating.

The study found that a group following a low-carb diet lost more weight -- an average of 7.7 pounds worth -- and their levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol had increased "significantly more" than a group following a low-fat diet over a year's time. Their triglycerides also fell sharply, and their Framingham scores, which predict how likely a patient is to have a heart attack within 10 years, also dropped.

Many see the results as an endorsement of an Atkins-like high- protein, high-fat diet, but Sharon R. Akabas, Ph.D., director of the M.S. in nutrition program at the Institute of Human Nutrition for Columbia University, said that we may be missing the point.

"The message that may be lost in translation is that eating unprocessed foods is very important," she said.

America has made a "big mistake" in making fat out to be villainous, she said, and the foods we developed in the wake of the "low-fat" craze may be low in fat but high in sugar and really low in nutrients. So while there's nothing inherently wrong with using a low-fat diet to keep your weight down, it's difficult to do without eventually eating processed foods. The reason? We've got to get our calories somehow. Low-carb diets, on the other hand, may not be as difficult to maintain; dieters may eat more fat, but if it's healthy fat - from nuts and olive oil, for example - that's OK.

"The higher-fat diet seems to allow us to select less processed foods, and that allows people to manage their weight better," Akabas said. …

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