Please Hold the Bacon

An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week concluded that "diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein and fat are not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in women." Woo-hoo! Bring out the bacon and eggs and let's get this party started! Well, not exactly. I described the significant limitations of this study in my online column ( newsweek.com ). Here I'd like to focus on what is an optimal diet.

The researchers found that those who ate fewer refined carbohydrates and got more of their protein and fat from vegetables rather than animal sources cut their heart-disease risk by 30 percent on average, compared with those who ate more animal fats. These findings support a growing consensus about an optimal way of eating: low in "bad fats," such as saturated and trans fats; low in "bad carbs" (refined carbohydrates), such as sugar and white flour; and including sufficient "good fats" and "good carbs." Good fats are in fish oil and some nuts and seeds. Good carbs are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Besides being low in harmful substances, these good fats and good carbs have thousands of protective nutrients. You have a spectrum of choices. To the degree you eat less of the bad carbs and fats and enough of the good carbs and fats, you're likely to look better, feel better, lose weight and gain health.

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