Can a Low-Fat Diet Help Fight Disease?
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Can a Low-Fat Diet Help Fight Disease?

Can lowering your fat intake affect your risk for certain chronic diseases? Expert answers on how your diet can affect your health.
Question: "I've been reading that eating a low-fat diet doesn't make a difference when it comes to fighting disease. What's your take on this?"

Answer: Recent research from the Women's Health Initiative, which seemed to show little relationship between low-fat diets and a lower risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease, sent us straight for the Oreos and brie too. But then we called Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research.

"These new studies only confirmed what we already knew: that lowering overall fat intake is not enough to reduce your risk of chronic disease. It's more important to consume good fats in moderation, maintain a healthy weight, and watch overall calories," she says.

A varied diet with an emphasis on plant foods is still the most beneficial, according to Michael J. Thun, MD, a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. "But for cancer prevention, it's just one piece of the puzzle," he says. "Cutting tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, performing daily activity, limiting alcohol use, and regular screenings are also key."

Originally published in Fitness magazine, May 2006.