Results of the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Study were recently released, and there's been quite a fuss made over them in the news.
The study began in 1993 and involved 48,835 women aged 50-79. Its purpose was to study the effects of a diet low in fat (20% of calories) and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains on breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and heart disease in postmenopausal women.
If you've heard the news reports, you've likely heard that this low fat diet did not significantly reduce the incidence of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, heart disease or stroke, implying that reducing fat intake is pointless. But that's not the whole story.
What you may not have heard is that the low fat diet showed small but significant improvements in body weight, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, diastolic blood pressure, and levels of Factor VII C (a blood clotting factor). It was also reported that many of the study subjects didn't follow the prescribed diet very carefully. Results might have been even more positive if they had.
No matter what sound bites you have heard in the news, eating a diet that is lower in fat and higher in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is beneficial to your health. And it will likely cause you to lose weight.
Megan Porter, RD