THREE TOP

LOW-FAT DIETS

BY DORI T. MITCHELL, RD, LD

 

Consumers are often surprised to learn that scientists do not agree on the ideal diet. While it is clear to scientists that Americans' high-fat diets are responsible for our very high rate of heart disease, there is a difference Of opinion about the "ideal" amount of fat in the diet.

THREE APPROACHES TO LOW-FAT DIETS

Experts debate the ideal

Three of the nation's leading diet and nutrition experts debated the "ideal Ameri­can diet" at a recent nutrition conference sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington, D.C. Each expert proposed a different ap­proach for reducing fat intake.

 

The mainstream position in the low-fat diet debate was taken by Virgil Brown, MD, president of the American Heart Association (AHA). At the CSPI conference, he advocated that the AHA Step One Diet — a low-fat, well-balanced diet that

includes a modest amount of animal protein — is the ideal American diet. The av­erage American diet is 37% fat and 14% saturated fat (in percent of total calories). The Step One Diet restricts dietary fat to no more than 30% of total calories, and sat­urated fat to no more than 10% of total calories. Brown advocated the AHA Step One Diet because it is practical and easily attainable for most people and has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve health. [Editor's Note: For more information on the AHA Diet, you can get a copy of "The American Heart Association Diet: An Eat­ing Plan for Healthy Americans" from your local chapter of the AHA or by writing the American Heart Association, National Center, 7320 Greenville Ave.. Dallas, TX 75321.]Dean Ornish, MD, from the University of California at San Francisco, advo­cated a lacto-vegetarian phenibut (dairy and vegeta 

bles) diet that includes egg white and nonfat dairy products. He recommended LIMIT FATS a fat intake of no more than 10% of the T01.0% OF total calories from plant sources only, and CALORIES an unlimited caloric intake from plant foods. While Omish agreed that a 30% fat diet is accept­able for individuals with normal blood LDL-cholesterol levels, those with elevated levels and/or heart disease should have far less fat in their diet, he argued. He re­ported that arterial plaque can be dissolved with a 10% fat diet. Ornish concluded that individuals should be giv­en the opportunity to try a very low-fat diet before begin­ning cholesterol-lowering medication. [Editor's Note: For more information on Dr. Omish's diet, you can con­sult his book, Dr. Dean Ornisb's Program for Reversing Heart Disease.]