Low Fat Diets & Cholesterol

A recent study compared two groups of women both on a low fat diet. One group had a diet high in vegetables, the other, low in vegetables. The LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) in women who were following a low fat diet, but consumed less vegetables, rose! It didn’t stay the same, it got worse!

Well, isn’t that interesting? When we ask new patients about their nutrition and eating habits, many of the patients tell us that they are following a low fat diet by eating low fat snacks, choosing margarine instead of butter, and avoiding meat and eggs.

When I was a dietitian in the hospital and was instructing the cardiac patients on low fat diets, I always wondered why so many of them did not lower their cholesterol levels by following the diet?

A Low Fat diet should NOT be followed by everyone

Many people actually gain weight and worsen their cholesterol levels by following it. Many people on low fat diets also do not incorporate enough vegetables into their diet. In fact, most Americans fall extremely short on an appropriate vegetable intake for good health. Because vegetables help lower LDL (along with improving pretty much every aspect of your health) – and the women of the above study were not consuming enough of them to accomplish this – they saw their cholesterol levels worsen. But a low fat diet isn’t proven to keep HDL levels low in everyone.

The ‘Low Fat diet for everyone’ idea gives the wrong message that Low Fat = Healthy.

If you are on a low fat diet, are putting on weight, and feel worse than before you started it, the diet is wrong for you. Your body may actually NEED MORE FAT-GOOD FAT! How do you know? In our office we do Diet Type testing to help determine this.

Many of our patients find that they feel best, look best, and have a balanced chemistry when they add more fat in their diet. Yes, this means taking out all of those “Bad” Fats, in addition to those “Fat Free” cookies, mayonnaise, and other foods. Eating the original amount of fat in food, in moderation, is actually healthier than indulging in the “Fat Free” alternatives.

But what about the cholesterol?!

The truth is that people with normal cholesterol have heart attacks everyday! Many people worry about their cholesterol because they feel they have to, based on drug companies and the media bombarding us with the impression there is a one to one linkage between elevated blood fats and arteriosclerosis.

At Caring Medical, we take a comprehensive approach to help you prevent heart disease. Diet plays a huge role in prevention of heart disease, as well as lack of physical activity, high C-Reactive protein levels, and Homocysteine levels. A complete evaluation by a physician trained in these things is something that everyone needs to do – especially if you are over 30 years old! But you are never too old – or too young, for that matter – to start!