Should I eat low-fat foods if I want to be healthy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Want to get healthy? Then forget about diet soda and low-fat foods. Instead, tuck into some eggs, whole milk, salt, fat, nuts, wine, chocolate and coffee. It’s true. Despite conventional wisdom, all of those foods and many more can be beneficial to your body. But overindulge in them, and they can be as problematic as you’ve always been led to believe.

The fact is that simple rules that divide things into good-food and bad-food categories tell you only a small part of the story. The rest of it is more complex than most folks know.


Eating Carrots
Being healthy, as it relates to food, is about eating foods that are nutrient rich, not nutrient deficient.

Low fat foods vary in nutrients and quality as do high fat foods. For example, potato chips or hot dogs that are labeled low fat may be, however, these foods don’t contain beneficial vitamins or minerals the body needs nor, is the fat a healthy fat. On the other hand, low fat dairy products are full of protein, calcium and various other vitamins and minerals, which make them nutrient rich and a better low fat choice. 

Conversely, nuts may be high in fat but are nutrient rich containing fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. So while they may be high in fat, the fat lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
I realize that I am not a dietician but my clients do report to me on their successes and failures with their nutrition and I have found over the years that those that are most successful track and log what they do and focus on the overall bottom line numbers of their diet.

For instance how many total calories, how many grams of protein, carbs and fat in a day.  If someone keeps their fat in the normal range 1500-2500 calories (depending on the person) and keeps their fat at 30% of their calories or lower then they will be fine.  If someone is focused and aware of their total calories they should consume and total grams of fat they should have then if they log their food they are aware and by default choose the right foods because they are being conscious of their food choices.

Bottom line is the bottom line and know your calories and fat grams and then log it and be aware of what you are doing and be willing to change.

In many cases low fat foods can be better but there are some exceptions. Two benefits of a low fat diet is the potential for cutting back on calories the will help you manage your weight and could help lower your risk of heart disease. Be careful though, just because it is low fat does not automatically mean lower calories. Jelly beans, fat free ice cream, and soda are low in fat but they are not low in calories.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.