Low-Fat Benefits

Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that switching to low-fat foods such as lean meats, low-fat desserts and skim milk can help consumers meet the recommended daily fat intake (30 percent or less of calories should come from fat). Shanthy Bowman, a nutritionist with the ARS, and her team of colleagues evaluated data from a 1996 U.S. Department of Agriculture food consumption survey in order to learn how low-fat foods affected total fat intake.

For comparison purposes they divided a sample (approximately 1,700 people) of those whom were included in the survey into two groups. The groups included either those who met the recommended daily fat intake or those who exceeded it. The researchers found that most adults who ate more fat than was recommended either did not use low-fat foods as part of their diet or they only ate one or two low-fat foods. On the other hand, those who did meet the recommended fat intake included low-fat foods as part of their diet. They also had a lower caloric intake (approximately 400 to 500 calories less) than those who exceeded the recommendation. Body Mass Index (BMI) was also lower in this group, especially among women. [See BMI Calculator for more information.)

The researchers also found that people who consumed low-fat foods had a more varied and nutritious diet. On the whole, those who ate three or more low-fat foods daily consumed more vitamin A, carotene, folate, calcium and iron than those who did not consume low-fat foods.

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