Although they have confirmed, unsurprisingly, that low-fat diets are not bad for the heart, recently released trial results have also shown that such an eating regime may not have any significant effect on cholesterol levels.

Data was collected from the US Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which provided a number of women across the US with intensive training and education on eating low-fat diets. Various health indicators were then compared with women whose dietary habits remained unchanged.

Low-fat diets didn’t lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, but they didn’t lower ‘good’ cholesterol (HDLs) either. Study author Barbara Howard, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University, said ‘This diet did not raise triglycerides and didn’t lower HDL cholesterol. It didn’t do any of the adverse things that high-fat people have claimed’.

Howard did note, however, that the women who decreased their intake of trans fatty acids and saturated fats did have a lower rate of heart disease. She also alluded to the increased ease of losing weight apparently brought about through consuming a low-fat diet.

‘If you start out eating too many calories and you cut fat, that automatically makes you eat a higher-carbohydrate diet. If a person wants to reduce weight and is comfortable with cutting fat, that is a good strategy’ Howard said; ‘The main message here is that if you want to lose weight and cut fat to do it, you do not have adverse effects. …in my opinion, if you have to cut calories to lose weight, it is easier to cut fat because fat is denser’.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition