Dieters decrease heart risk on moderate fat program

Penn State nutritionists delighted dieters everywhere by touting the health benefits of chocolate and nuts. Now they have more good news: A moderate-fat diet may be better for your heart than a low-fat one. This doesn't mean you can substitute Snickers for bananas, but it might mean having a little peanut butter on your apple.

Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, and Christine Pelkman, a former research associate at Penn State, compared study participants getting 18 percent of their calories from fat with those getting 33 percent of their calories from fat. The moderate-fat group enjoyed unsaturated fats like nuts and peanut oil in place of more carbohydrates. Over a six-week period, individuals in both groups lost about two pounds a week and reduced their overall cholesterol levels. Participants in the moderate-fat group, however, were able to maintain higher blood levels of so-called "good cholesterol" and lover levels of triglycerides during the weight loss phase and the four-week maintenance phase that followed. Not the low-fat group. Their risk factors for heart disease—including elevated levels of triglycerides—rebounded during the maintenance phase.

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Last Updated May 01, 2004