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How Low-Fat Foods Actually Make You Fat

How Low-Fat Foods Actually Make You Fat

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According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, we have reduced fat in our diet from 43 percent to 33 percent of calories, yet "we are sicker than ever," he wrote. Higher rates of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, which has increased 700 percent since the 1980s, plague Americans and yes, our diet is to blame.

Even the Harvard School of Public Health, which says that the "evidence just isn't there" when it comes to low-fat diets being the key to good health and weight loss, is ready to end the low-fat myth.

"Carefully conducted clinical trials have found that following a low-fat diet does not make it any easier to lose weight than following a moderate- or high-fat diet," an Harvard School of Public Health article states. In addition to the low-fat diet trend spiking a 30-year high in obesity rates, researchers have found that low-fat diets offer no benefits when to comes to disease prevention. Rumors that low-fat diets can help prevent illnesses like breast cancer have been scientifically dispelled.

Should We Avoid Food Products With the Words "Lite," 'Low-Fat" or "Nonfat" in Their Names?

"Generally any foods with a dietary claim on them are generally misleading and should be avoided," said culinary nutritionist Tricia Williams, of Food Matters NYC. "Stick to foods that are as close to they are found in nature and not packaged or processed." Foods marketed as low-fat are traditionally foods found in nature that are then, "stripped of their healthy fats," Williams said. Skim milk, for example, is a natural ingredient that has its fats removed to sound more appealing to the weight-conscious customer.

"Low-fat foods are not healthy for you. Most people that stick to a low-fat diet gain weight because they end up going heavier on carbs," Williams warned, noting the correlation between the low-fat diet craze and the obesity epidemic. Don't forget: When fat was taken out of foods it was replaced by sugar and carbs to add flavor.

Look at it this way. A single Oreo cookie has 40 calories, 16 of which are from fat, as well as 7 grams of carbs and 3.3 grams of sugar. A single Snackwell's Devil's Food cookie (which does weigh .6 oz to Oreo's .3, but still, it is a single cookie), has 50 calories and though there's no fat, the cookie has 12 grams of carbs and 7 grams of sugar. To market a cookie that has more than twice as much sugar as two Oreos as a health food, is misleading.

If you are trying to cut back on fat, consider foods that are naturally low in fat, rather than mechanically re-created to be low-fat. The American Cancer Society defines a low-fat food as one in which 30 percent or less of the calories in the food come from fat, i.e., a food like a 65 calorie apple, which has .2 grams of fat in it, is considered naturally low-fat.

The healthiest diet in the world, the Mediterranean diet, however, is not packed with naturally low-fat treats and snacks with their fat removed, but rather rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, some of which contain healthy fats. Long touted as the best diet for longevity and health, the Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent type 2 diabetes and yes, help with weight loss, even though olive oil, meats, seafood and other naturally fatty foods are staples in this diet.

Next time you think that eating fat will make you fat, think again. We have been conditioned to think about health and nutrition with certain terms and labels, but moving beyond what the mass of American eaters has accepted as truth for too long is essential to our health.

Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

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