Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet OK for Cholesterol

A low-fat, high-carbohydrate eating plan is not too bad for “good” cholesterol. A slight fall in blood levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, in men who follow this diet may not be a problem, according to a new study.

Instead, researchers say the lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol may be a result of lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

HDL levels normally fall in response to a high-carb, low saturated fat/total fat eating plan, even when body weight stays the same or is reduced. Researcher says: “This created a controversy among scientists because HDL cholesterol has a beneficial effect on coronary heart disease risk. However, body weight is also an important determinant of plasma HDL cholesterol concentrations, and low-fat/high-carbohydrate diets are associated with weight loss.”

Investigators assigned half of the 65 men in the study to a diet low in saturated fat and total fat and high in carbs. The other half ate foods high in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, which resembled a Mediterranean-style diet. Both eating plans reduced the men’s LDL cholesterol and ratio of total/HDL cholesterol. HDL levels fell 10 percent in the first group but just 3 percent in the other group.

Researchers caution, “People may be confused because of the wide array of diets that are being proposed. But there is a wealth of evidence to support a low intake of saturated and trans-fats, a moderate intake of the good fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats from vegetables, fish, legumes and nuts), and a high intake of fiber from fruits, vegetables and grains.”

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