Is it time for the free-fat diet?
Forget fat-free, is it time to free the fat?
According to a new study a high-fat diet can help our health.
The review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a diet including “a lot of fat” may reduce the risk of a range of chronic diseases.
The researchers, from the University of Minnesota, reviewed the literature on the Mediterranean diet, which they defined as one which placed no restriction on total fat intake and tended to include a lot of monounsaturated fats (olive oil, for example), fruit and vegetables, legumes, grains and fish, moderate red wine consumption, moderate consumption of dairy products, and low consumption of red meat.
“Limited evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet with no restriction on fat intake may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes,” the researchers concluded.
Extensive research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet, abundant in good fats, has an array of health benefits, and can even, to an extent, offset the odd treat. Not only that, fat is as likely to make us fat as eating greens are to make us green.
However, does that mean we should let the good fat flow freely?
Dietitian, Melanie McGrice isn’t convinced based on the latest study.
“One of the key limitations of this review is that it’s based on very few studies,” McGrice says. “However, we are certainly seeing more and more health advantages of following a Mediterranean-style diet.
“As long as people are consuming healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil and omega 3 from fish, then it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of the beneficial aspects of the Mediterranean diet is that it focuses on eating whole food, rather than just on nutrients. It encourages people to eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes, and decreases consumption on processed foods and sugar.”
Cardiologist and adviser to the UK’s National Obesity Forum, Dr Aseem Malhotra however believes in a free-fat diet, saying that if we eat to feel satiated, our bodies will tell us how much we need.
“Force yourself to eat anything in excess and you will probably do harm,” says Malhotra, who eats as many as 15 eggs a week.
“Eat until you’re full. Try to avoid snacking and eat real food.”
McGrice, on the other hand, says it’s different fat strokes for different folks.
“I think it depends on the individual,” she says. “If you are able to eat these healthy fats and maintain a healthy weight, then
there is no point in measuring out portions.
“However I have had clients who have followed a Mediterranean-style diet who add half a cup of oil per meal and struggle with their weight, and I have advised them to reduce their fat intake.”
She adds that if you are inactive or have a slow metabolism, freeing the fat – even if it’s healthy fat – may tip your scales and health over the edge.
“Yet, other people have a better metabolism, are more in-tune with their appetite hormones, and are able to eat as much fat as they desire, yet still maintain a healthy weight,” McGrice says.
As with so many nutrition studies, we need to find the individual message within results that are based on averages.
Perhaps, in this instance, the individual message is that it is OK to loosen the good fat, if not free it completely.
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website