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Low-Fat Foods – Are They Better?

Low-fat foods are rampant in today's society, but are they healthy?A search for the term "fat-free" in the grocery section on brings up 3,386 products; "low-fat" yields 3,597. That's a vast array of food products in which no- or low-fat content is touted as a virtue. Many of them compensate for the fat's absence with extra sugar, corn syrup or other added sweeteners.

But the fact is, there appears to be very little hard evidence that saturated fat – long reviled as the worst of the fats for heart health – really does raise heart disease risk. A review of studies supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada concluded that there was "insufficient evidence of association" between saturated fat intake and risk of heart disease. Instead, it singled out foods with a high glycemic load - that is, sugar- and processed-carbohydrate-laden foods - in raising cardiovascular disease risk.

Government and industry have used shaky science to demonize natural fats and promote fat-free dairy products, processed grains and sweeteners. The fact is that natural fats and fat sources such as extra-virgin olive oil, butter, oily cold-water fish and even an occasional grass-fed, grass-finished steak are all good for you if eaten moderately as part of a low-glycemic-load diet. They supply essential fatty acids and a feeling of fullness, while helping to keep blood sugar levels, insulin and whole-body inflammation levels low and steady. No one's health is improved by swapping out natural saturated or monounsaturated fats for skim milk, sugars or processed grains.

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Reader Comments (1)

The plant-based diet I'm following goes along with what you say about avoiding processed foods especially those with high sugar content and sweeteners. (I think that’s why my Triglycerides went from 247 to 108 in about 6 months.) We’re avoiding dairy for reasons other than heart-specific health also.

It's unusual for a doctor who advocates holistic medicine to say meats are “heart healthy”. And why “grass-fed, grass-finished steak?” (Sounds like an advertising slogan). Beef that is properly grass-finished has a higher fat content. Why would that make any difference or make it more heart-healthy? Steak is steak. And how much is OK? (Is a steak & fries meal healthy if we leave out the shake and the veggies?)

I find it interesting you didn’t make any distinction with regard to added hormones, antibiotics or other factors that would affect the purity of it.

I respect you Dr. Weil, but without more explanation and reference to specific studies your blog article is pretty “shaky”, to use your own expression.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

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