Keep Weight Off By Adding Unsaturated Fats

Imagine eating more fat than usual to stay on a diet. At an American Heart Association conference on fatty acids last month (see feature story, page 1), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston extolled the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet for weight loss that did just that.

In the study, 101 volunteers?mostly women?were split into two groups. One group limited fat intake to no more than 20% of calories. The other group followed a Mediterranean-style diet with fat calories at 35% (28% unsaturated, 7% saturated). Both diets were low-calorie (1,200 for women, 1,500 for men) and both groups initially lost about the same amount of weight?11 pounds in six months.

But after 18 months on the plan, the Mediterranean-style group kept their weight off, while the low-fat group began to gain weight back. The difference? The Mediterranean diet participants reported they didn’t feel like they were dieting. The extra fat made it easier to stick with the weight-loss plan by allowing them to saut? vegetables, use full-fat salad dressings and cut cravings between meals with a handful of nuts. As a result, there were fewer participants who dropped out of the study. Most were able to incorporate this way of eating into their lifestyle.

The mostly mono-rich foods that accounted for the higher fat intake included olive oil, canola oil, peanut butter, nuts and avocado.

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