| A Low Fat Diet Can Lead To A Healthier Lifestyle |
Feb 3 2008, 04:05 PM
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There are many different kinds of diet but one of the most successful, effective and healthiest is a low fat diet. There are many advantages to a diet of this type besides helping you to lose weight. Those individuals who suffer from high cholesterol can benefit from eating a diet that is low in fat as can those who are considered to be obese.
You do not have to change your diet very much other than be aware of the foods that you are eating. To do this all that you need to do is check the labels on the foods that you buy in the supermarket. You should also be wary of foods that proclaim to be very low in fat and are aimed specifically at dieters. Some foods often have contents which are much higher than normal brands. High fat content can also be hidden in some processed foods with cookies and crackers being the worst and also the oil used when cooking foods.
When it comes to cutting down on the amount of fat and eating a low fat diet then you should consider taking care when choosing food. If you do not want to give up meat then go for the leaner cuts of beef for example. Cutting the skin off chicken and grilling it is another excellent example on how you can cut down on the amount of fat in your diet. Also increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet with the recommended being 5 portions at least per day and increase the amount of fish. You should also aim to include plenty of whole grains, beans and lentils in your diet. Grains and beans are known to be rich in complex carbohydrates and should become the main meal with a small amount of red meat included.
There are many ways that you can move over to a low fat diet without leaving out all the foods you enjoy. For example if you enjoy ice-cream then choose a sorbet or sherbet. Baking, broiling or roasting lean red meat and draining off the juices will allow you to enjoy red meat without adding too much fat to your diet and for a touch of flavour add lemon juice.
If you like milk on your cereal and in tea and coffee then switch to 1% milk and then drop down to skimmed milk. After a while you will not notice the difference especially when in a hot drink. When it comes to shopping read the labels in the products before buying, you should avoid foods which contain pal, palm kernel and coconut oils. Also avoid buying products with egg-yolk solids, whole-milk solids or unidentified shortening.
A low fat diet is one of the easiest types of diet to get accustomed to and the transition can be made very slowly. As with any type of diet it is imperative that you make changes slowly over a period of time to allow your body to get used to them and so not miss them.
About The Author:
Jason Hulott is Director at UK Diets Online (uk-diets-online.co.uk), a service that provides information about all the major diet systems available, healthy eating and diet information. Visit now and take advantage of our special deals with Weightwatchers.
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May 13 2008, 11:24 AM
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Confused about carbs?
Carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’, are a hot diet topic, but why all the fuss?
There was a time when everyone was told to eat plenty of bread, rice and potatoes and to worry more about fat than sugar. But now that we're in an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, nutrition experts are saying you can have too much of a good thing, and we need to be more careful about the type and amount of carbs we eat.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates (carbs) are one of the four nutrients in food that provide kilojoules, or energy, to fuel the body. Carbs can be divided into two main groups: sugars and starches. In fact, starches are made up of lots of sugar molecules stuck together, and so when digested, both starches and sugars produce sugar in the body. Sugar produced by eating carbs is sent around the body in the blood and can be measured by a blood sugar level.
What do carbs do?
Carbs are the body's primary fuel, a bit like petrol in a car. Carbs give us energy to work our heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and muscles. Carbs are particularly important to fuel the brain, helping us to think clearly and to balance our mood, as well as to power muscles during exercise.
Are carbs fattening?
Any food can be fattening if you overeat. It doesn't seem to matter a whole lot whether your food is high in fat or carbs, but how much you eat in total (ie. kilojoules). Pure carbs have the same number of kilojoules per gram as pure protein, but around half the kilojoules of pure fat. However, you have to consider that food is often a combination of nutrients. The 'fattening' potential of foods is now being talked about in terms of energy density, or kilojoules per gram. Eating a lot of foods with a high energy density increases the chance of weight gain. Even reduced fat foods can have a high energy density, such as 'light' biscuits and 'baked not fried' potato crisps. To prevent weight gain, a food's 'filling power' is also important so you can eat less without feeling hungry. High protein foods and low GI carbs tend to be good fillers, whereas fat is easily over-consumed because it tastes good, isn't bulky and slides down easily!
Carb quality is also important to help keep weight down, and some carb foods seem to be more fattening than others. Large population studies have shown that drinking a lot of soft drinks and eating a lot of desserts is associated with weight gain, but eating wholegrain foods seems to keep the weight off.
What about low-carb?
Low-carb mania has resulted mainly from fad-diet books, however there has been research activity in this area as well. Several studies have been published in reputable scientific journals showing the effectiveness of low-carb diets for weight loss, which has challenged the traditional high carb advice. What's not known is the long-term effects of such diets, and there are certainly good reasons to think low-carb diets are not a healthy way of life because they restrict health-protecting plant foods such as grain foods, vegetables and fruits.
What has been shown is that weight loss can be achieved in a healthier way using a less extreme moderate carb approach. The good old low-fat diet with a little more lean protein and a little less carbs has been shown to work well for weight loss and for lowering cholesterol and blood sugars.
Watching the type of carbs: the glycemic index (GI)
You can't talk about carbs without mentioning the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a way of comparing different carbs by ranking their effect on blood sugar levels. High GI carbs cause a rapid rise and decline in blood sugars, whereas low GI carbs have a more gradual and longer lasting effect. Moderate GI carbs are somewhere in the middle. The benefits of low GI foods are for people with diabetes who struggle to keep their blood sugar and insulin levels down at a normal level, however including more low GI foods has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. A low GI diet might also help with weight control as low GI foods tend to be more satisfying. Being more selective about carbs and favouring those with a low GI has now become part of healthy advice for everyone, and especially for people with diabetes or those at risk.
Portion size matters!
Just because a food has a low GI, it doesn't mean you can eat as much as you like. Equally, high GI foods don't have to be off-limits, just go easy and enjoy in moderation. Overeating any food can cause weight gain, and overeating any carbs over the long term can disrupt your body's metabolic balance.
What is glycemic load (GL)?*
While the GI is a comparative rating, the GL tells you how much sugar is released into the blood after eating a given quantity of food. The GL of a food is the GI (%) multiplied by the amount of carbs (in grams) in a single serving. A low GL is good and a high GL is less desirable. A diet with a low GL appears to be protective against weight gain and lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Good carbs and bad carbs
The main thing to think about when choosing healthier carbs is how nutritious is the food? Sugary foods such as lollies and soft drinks have often been called 'empty kilojoule' foods because they don't offer much else besides pure energy, whereas sugar-containing foods, such as fruit and milk, and starchy foods like bread and pasta - especially wholegrain types - offer other nutrients as well, such as protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For a healthy diet, choose the good carbs with more nutritional value.
What does insulin do?
Insulin is a hormone that has many functions in the body, but a major one is to move sugar from the blood into every cell in the body to do its work, and to store the energy for later use. It's often called the storage hormone for this reason. It's thought that having too much insulin in the body causes weight gain because the body is in 'storage mode'.
What about diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels become too high because insulin doesn't work properly (type 2), or the body stops making insulin (type 1). Type 2 diabetes is the most common and often involves too much insulin in the body as it struggles to pump out more insulin to make up for its lack of effect.
What foods are high in carbs?
Foods high in carbs are starchy foods or foods containing sugars. Sugars can be added as an ingredient, or occur naturally (such as in fruit and milk). Foods with a lower percentage of carbs often have a high water content (eg. potato and lemonade).
Choosing lower GI carbs
Lowering the GI of your diet is as simple as swapping a high GI food for a lower GI alternative and it can taste just as good.
Higher GI food
1. Mash potato
2. Jasmine rice
3. White bread
4. Orange-flavoured soft drink
5. Jelly beans
6. Rice pasta
7. Boiled potato
8. Rice cracker
Lower GI alternative
1. Sweet potato
2. Basmati rice
3. Multi-grain bread
4. Orange juice, unsweetened
5. Dried apricots
6. Regular spaghetti
7. 4 bean mix
8. Rye crispbread
*Classification of GI
* LOW - 55 or less
* MEDIUM - 56-69
* HIGH - 70 or more
For more information, see The Glycemic Index
For a sensible moderate carb weight loss approach, go to the CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Diet
Super Food Ideas - March 2005 , Page 84
Aug 5 2008, 06:27 PM
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Low-fat diet may cut cancer risk
AP (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cutting dietary fat may also cut the risk of ovarian cancer, says a study of almost 40,000 older women that found the first hard evidence that menu changes protect against this particularly lethal cancer.
But don't wait too long to get started: The protection didn't kick in until the women had eaten less fat for four years and counting.
Until now, the only known prescription against ovarian cancer - aside from surgically removing the ovaries - was to use birth control pills. Use for five years can lower the cancer risk by up to 60 percent, protection that lingers years after pill use ends.
The new findings now offer an option for postmenopausal women to try as well.
Those who followed a low-fat diet for eight years cut their chances of ovarian cancer by 40 percent, researchers reported Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"This is really good news," said Dr. Jacques Rossouw of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the work. "But you have to stick with the diet."
It's arguably the most promising finding of the mammoth Women's Health Initiative dietary study, which enrolled tens of thousands of healthy women ages 50 to 79 to track the role of fat in several leading killers. Some women were assigned to cut the total fat in their diets to 20 percent of calories - from an average of 35 percent - while others continued their usual diets for comparison.
Yet the study so far has found the diet made little impact on rates of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and heart disease. There are a number of theories: Maybe the women started healthier eating too late; most were overweight, a major risk factor, and the diet wasn't designed to shed pounds. Nor did most women actually cut enough fat.
But despite all those hurdles, a low-fat diet did appear protective against ovarian cancer - and the women who started with the worst diets and cut fat the most got the most benefit.
Ovarian cancer is fairly rare, affecting one in 60 women compared with the one in 9 who will get breast cancer. But it is among the grimmest of diagnoses, because ovarian cancer usually is detected only after it has spread throughout the abdomen, making it much harder to treat. Only 45 percent of patients survive five years.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,430 U.S. women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year; 15,280 women will die of it.
Ovarian cancer can strike anytime in adulthood, but risk increases with age. Mutations in the so-called breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 also increase the risk of ovarian cancer - and women in the new study have not yet been tested for those genes, to see if the low-fat diet proves more or less beneficial for them.
Why would diet affect ovaries? The theory is that fat intake increases the amount of estrogen circulating in the blood, which may in turn overstimulate sensitive ovaries.
Indeed, blood tests showed study participants on the low-fat diet experienced a 15 percent reduction in estradiol, a key form of estrogen, while non-dieters experienced no change, said study co-author Dr. Ross Prentice of Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
"It's quite noteworthy," Prentice said of the ovarian protection. "We're really pleased to have something positive to say to American women - that undertaking a low-fat diet likely reduces your risk of ovarian cancer and perhaps other cancers as well."
Estrogen plays a role in breast cancer, too. Yet when researchers last year checked women in this same study, they found only a 9 percent drop in breast cancer risk, not quite large enough to be sure it wasn't due to chance. But even then, the women who cut the most fat fared better - just like with the new ovarian cancer data.
Most of the dieters cut their fat intake to 24 percent of calories, not quite as much as recommended. And over time, the fat crept back: Eight years later, they were up to 29 percent - still lower than the average American diet, noted Rossouw, of NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
"It's feasible," he said of the diet. And, "once there is news that this does work, it may be easier to motivate people to do."