A low fat diet may help you manage your waistline, but it may not help you manage your cholesterol. New research shows that sticking to a reduced-fat eating regimen did not significantly lower cholesterol levels in a large group of post-menopausal women. The study, led by Barbara V. Howard, a professor at Georgetown University’s Department of Medicine, looked at women who were educated on how to follow a low-fat diet and compared their health to women who did not change their eating habits. In one of the largest preventative studies of its kind, participants entered an intense behavioral modification program led by nutritionists complete with group therapy. The women in the low-fat diet group reduced their fat intake by 7-8% and replaced it with complex carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables and grains.
The study found that the reduced-fat diet had almost no impact on cholesterol levels. But the women on low-fat diets who ate foods with less saturated fat and trans fatty acids—often found in commercially fried food and high-fat packaged food—had lower rates of heart disease. This finding provided important insight into how certain types of fat affects our health, and supported findings from other studies emphasizing the importance of the type of fat over the amount of fat in the diet.
If you are interested in lowering your cholesterol, try a cholesterol lowering diet, which emphasizes foods low in saturated and trans fats.