Fat-Free Feeding Frenzy Flouts Facts. Part 2

Diet |

The low-fat proponents cited a study that showed people lost weight better on a diet rich in plant foods and low in fat. The alternative-fat proponents graphed the results of six studies that showed weight loss from low-fat diets was mostly in the first three to six months, after which weight plateaued or was gained. They argued that people who could choose their own foods generally replaced fats with larger amounts of carbohydrates over time.

As for health consequences, the low-fat proponents cited the major national health organizations that support reducing total dietary fat to 30 percent of calories (or 20 percent in the case of the American Cancer Society). The alternative-fat proponents countered that it is not the total fat that is important, but the kind of fat. They also said that when a very large percent of calories comes from carbohydrate, the level of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) is reduced and the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased.

Both camps agreed that saturated fats and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) should make up less of Americans’ diets (one specified 6 to 8 percent of calories, vs. the current 11 percent). They also agreed that processed fat-free snack foods were not a good replacement for all fat calories. While both would like to see us eat more fruits, vegetables and high-fiber foods, the appropriate-fat camp wanted to be sure that foods such as nuts and oil-based salad dressings were included for their n­3 fatty acids.

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