Field Notes

Modified-Fat Diet Key to Lowering Heart Disease Risk

The debate contrasting good fat vs. bad fat continues as a new evidence review, appearing in The Cochrane Library, finds a modified-fat diet may be the real key to someone reducing his or her risk of heart disease. A low-fat diet replaces saturated fat with starchy foods, fruits, and vegetables, while a modified-fat diet replaces saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Lead review author Lee Hooper, MD, says she and her colleagues were surprised there was such a clear difference between the effects of the diets.

Hooper, a senior lecturer in research synthesis and nutrition at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England, said the main theory has been that eating saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and therefore should make the effects of a low-fat diet and a modified-fat diet very similar.

“However, the review shows clearly that modified-fat diets appear to be more effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events than low-fat diets,” she says. “This could be due to a low-fat diet being harder to maintain, but this is not clear.”

The authors published an earlier version of this review in 2000 in which 27 randomized controlled studies were included. This current version analyzes 48 studies conducted between 1965 and 2009 and includes 65,508 participants from around the globe. Participants were adults who had heart disease, were at risk of heart disease, or were from the general healthy population. All studies reduced or modified participants’ dietary fat or cholesterol by 30% for at least six months.

Hooper and her team found that reducing dietary saturated fat reduced by 14% the risk of a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack, stroke, and unplanned heart surgery. Of the 65,508 participants, 7% had a cardiovascular event. Researchers noted benefits in individuals who followed a modified diet for at least two years.

The Cochrane reviewers were unable to find proof that making long-term reductions to dietary fat intake had any effect on a person’s risk of death due to cardiovascular causes, including heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. The evidence also was not clear whether currently healthy people would benefit by reducing fat in their diets as much as those already at risk of heart disease.

“There is no clear difference in effect in people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and in the general population,” Hooper says. She adds, though, that data suggest “we would all benefit to some extent.”

— Source: Health Behavior News Service



ADA Spokespeople Review the Latest Diet and Lifestyle Books

With seemingly endless information about food and diets available today, it’s easy for clients to be overwhelmed. Whether it’s a pill, a cleanse, a fast-results diet, or an entire lifestyle change, there’s no shortage of products, programs, and books that promise life-changing results when it comes to weight loss.

“Every day, Americans are flooded with information about how to lose weight and feel great fast. While some of these products and programs offer sound nutrition information, others are gimmicks and can even be dangerous,” says American Dietetic Association (ADA) Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan, RD. “It’s important for consumers to achieve a healthy weight in a way that’s safe and provides their bodies with the nutrition they need to thrive. There’s no miracle cure or overnight plan for healthy weight loss.”

To help consumers separate diet fads from healthy, science-based options, ADA media spokespeople reviewed 15 of the latest diet and lifestyle books. (To read the reviews, visit .

The titles reviewed include the following:

  • The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss
  • The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor’s Plan Designed for Rapid Results by Mike Moreno, MD
  • The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep it Off by Daniel G. Amen, MD
  • Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
  • Clean & Lean Diet by James Duigan
  • Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Life Like You Mean It! by Kriss Carr
  • The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it Off Forever by Pierre Dukan, MD
  • Full: A Life Without Dieting by Michael A. Snyder, MD, FACS
  • The Game On! Diet: Kick Your Friend’s Butt While Shrinking Your Own by Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson
  • Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure by Paul Gayler with Gemma Heiser, MSc
  • The Italian Diet: 100 Healthy Italian Recipes to Help You Lose Weight and Love Food by Gino D’Acampo
  • Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great by Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM
  • The New Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, More Energy in Just 10 Days by Connie Guttersen, PhD, RD
  • Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease by Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN
  • The Super Health Diet: The Last Diet You Will Ever Need by K. C. Craichy

— Source: American Dietetic Association