Findings from a new study suggest that consuming healthy fats might be more conducive to weight loss than a low-fat, low-calorie diet.
A Predimed study analyzed the link between body weight and weight circumference and how these were affected by consuming healthy fats or a low-fat diet. The study group consisted of almost 7,500 Spanish participants aged 55 to 80, details Food Navigator. Participants were assigned one of three diets and studied over the course of five years: “an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, or a low-fat diet where [participants] were advised to avoid all dietary fats.”
Dr. Ramon Estruch, lead author of the study, said “More than 40 years of nutritional policy has advocated for a low-fat diet but we’re seeing little impact on rising levels of obesity. Our study shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats such as olive oil and nuts had little effect on body or waist circumference compared to people on a low-fat diet.”
The results of this study should be carefully interpreted, according to experts, as the low-fat diet group was only able to reduce their fat intake from 40 percent to 37 percent, which is higher than the U.K. average of 35 percent and the 30 percent recommended by the World Health Organization. Additionally, the study does not suggest that eating an abundance of healthy fats will not result in weight gain.
Tom Sanders, professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, says “It remains sensible to use oils in moderation and get most of the fat from plant and marine sources… Although the Mediterranean diet is perceived to be a diet rich in fruit and vegetables with lots of olive oil, in the past most of the food energy was derived from plant-based foods such as cereals, legumes, nuts, and pulses with only small amounts of meat, fish, and dairy produce.”