Fat and Wine

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Is Less Fat Really Better?
Dr. Ronald Krauss, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, head of the nutrition committee for the American Heart Association, has stated that lowfat diets may be good for some but bad for others. He states that his data shows that one third of Americans will benefit from reducing their fat to below 30% of their calories while another third will be unaffected. Still another third could be harmed by reducing their fat to this level. He says genes for LDL production provide clues. Dr. Krauss put 105 men on a lowfat diet (24% calories from fat). Some improved their cholesterol levels while some showed little or no benefit. Still others showed a drop in protective HDL (good cholesterol) while they developed small dense LDL (bad cholesterol).
Dr. Jan Breslow, Rockefeller University, questions if this truly puts the third group at a higher risk of heart disease. I second Dr. Breslow’s skepticism. High fat diets increase Factor VII which increases the tendency of blood to clot. This poses a real danger to someone who already has significant atherosclerosis as most heart attacks and strokes are triggered by blood clots. A study on hamsters (their blood lipids respond similar to humans) published in 1997, J. Lipid Res. Vol. 38, pages 2289-2302 found that the drop in HDL on a low fat diet did not decrease reverse cholesterol transport (from tissues back to the liver). If these findings are repeated in human subjects, it will largely discredit the theory (never proven) that lowfat diets increase the risk of heart disease by lowering protective HDL. As Jan Breslow correctly points out, people who eat lowfat diets have less heart disease than people who eat higher fat diets.

Should you drink more red wine?
Dr. Renaud has just completed a study of 34,000 middle-aged men living in eastern France and found that two to three glasses of wine a day reduces death rates from all causes by 20-30%.
Should you drink red wine every day?
The health benefits of alcohol (no one has proven a unique effect of wine) in terms of overall death rate are modest and due primarily to a significant drop in atherosclerotic-related deaths. Most people would not see much of a health benefit from even one glass of wine daily, provided they are eating a lowfat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans (but this has not been studied yet).

By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN

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