The benefit of low fat foods

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Low-fat food raises debate among nutritionists

Low-fat dairy foods may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, but no evidence suggests that whole milk products increase the risk. A new study has found that the fat content of dairy products may neutralise their protective effect. The researchers interviewed a group of 6,686 men and women who had graduated from universities in Spain, using questionnaires that gathered detailed information on consumption rates of whole and skim milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and 11 other dairy products. The participants also reported their body mass index, physical activity level, and any family history of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or high cholesterol. After statistical adjustment for other risk factors, the scientists found a 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of hypertension in those with the highest consumption of low-fat dairy products compared with those who consumed the least. Dr. Alvaro Alonso, a co-author of the report and a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, does not recommend eating more low-fat dairy products, but substituting them for whole milk foods. "In general," Alonso said, "the caloric intake of Americans is more than enough, and I believe that the nutritional advice should not be `eat more of this,' but `eat this instead of that'." The researchers cautioned that they studied only a highly educated Mediterranean population and that the consumers of low-fat dairy products in the study might have had other habits. Nevertheless, they write, "The study provided evidence to support a possible role of low-fat dairy products in the primary prevention of hypertension, even in a population with a high total fat intake." New York Times




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