Low Fat Diets

The Truth about Low Fat Diets

Healthy food

If you are now on a low-fat diet targeting cholesterol and saturated fats, a change may be in order. Replacing margarine with butter and vegetable shortening with lard should have no effect on your risk of heart attack. However, it may help you feel less hungry and have more energy. A healthy low-fat diet is low in vegetable fat sources. Fats from animal sources, nuts and fruits like avocado or olive are all healthy fat choices.

Rapid Weight Loss Diets Might Not Be for You

Diets and weight loss are big business these days.  We all want to look and feel good.  To accommodate the demand for rapid weight loss diet tips, the marketplace is filled with diet plans and information.  Today, we have become accustomed to instant gratification but no matter how you slice it, losing weight just doesn’t happen without some real effort.   So, the idea of a rapid weight loss diet must make us ask if they really work and are they healthy for dieters needing to lose weight.

There are plenty of rapid weight loss diet plans out there; all you need to do is look and decide which one is right for you.  These fad diets, as they are called, may help you lose weight in the short run, but they are not, however, a good idea for use as a long-term diet plan.  Health experts agree that sustaining a rapid weight loss diet program for long periods of time can be detrimental to your overall health, not to mention the effects that sagging skin can have on your appearance.

Rapid weight loss diet plans involve denying your body something that it desires.  Sugar, fat and carbs come to mind.  This constant struggle often leads to yo-yo dieting.  You lose some weight, but sure enough, the weight comes back.  So you try again.  Much of the actual weight loss can be attributed to simply losing water weight which will come back.  This type of dieting is very unhealthy and can quickly lead to more complicated health issues and is certain to raise the frustration level you may already be experiencing.

For those who are serious minded about losing more than a few pounds, a rapid weight loss diet plan should be avoided.  Your first step needs to be a talk with your doctor.  Unhealthy diets and eating habits have a way of manifesting themselves years later, so maintaining your health throughout your diet is extremely important.

Rapid weight loss diets are aimed more toward a quick fix.  Don’t go hungry, feed yourself good food.  Healthy dieting is a lifestyle change.  What you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat are the three main aspects of your eating habits that you will need to rearrange for a healthy diet plan.   Dieting alone may not be enough to give you the optimal results that you are looking for.  A healthy weight loss plan should to include a certain amount of exercise to complete your lifestyle change.

Developing healthy eating patterns and a sensible exercise routine are necessary in achieving the best results of the diet plan that you choose. Studies have shown that losing weight slowly and continually is better for you and has a higher success rate at keeping the weight off.  Rapid weight loss diets may help you shed a few pounds but it is not the answer for those who need to lose more than just a little added weight.

Risk Factors & Cholesterol

Disected medical model

High cholesterol is a chronic problem for millions of individuals around the globe. It is a health hazard because it causes major health problems in the body as well as clogs the arteries. While people associate experiencing high cholesterol with an increased risk of heart attack, high cholesterol may also contribute to other diseases and medical conditions.

There are many influential factors of having high cholesterol and experiencing the risks associated with it, and numerous factors come into play that impact your increased risk such as your diet, your weight, your activity level, your age, your gender, stress levels, and heredity.

One of the main influences of high cholesterol is a person’s diet. Individuals who consume high quantities of foods that contain vast amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol will most likely be the ones that are diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems.

A person’s age has an impact on risk for high cholesterol as well, because as a person ages their cholesterol levels naturally rise. This is emphasized when a person also consumes too much cholesterol and fat. Your weight also has an enormous impact on whether you have high cholesterol. Belly fat is a big indicator that a person is likely to have high cholesterol.

It is best to monitor and implement high cholesterol prevention before you get to the point of diagnosis. This means exercising regularly, eating plenty of lean meats, vegetables, and fruits, and avoiding fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, and too many sweets.


Antioxidant Spices

Mixed Spices Anti Oxidants

The McCormick company, which sells cooking herbs and spices, has conducted research into the antioxidant health benefits of culinary spices. Their results show that cooking with as little as two tablespoons of certain spices can increase your intake of antioxidants by a measurable amount. While one would normally be skeptical about manufacturer-sponsored studies that show products in a good light, independent studies back up the claims. The antioxidants in spices can be a powerful way to protect your body against disease.

How Antioxidants Help Keep You Healthier

A normal, healthy body creates something called free radicals every day. These free radicals are usually produced in small enough amounts that they don’t cause any noticeable health problems, but they do seem to play a large part in the aging process because they can help a body’s tissues break down more quickly. Researchers have found that antioxidants attach themselves to these free radicals and neutralize them so that they behave like normal atoms. Reducing the number of free radicals in your system tends to increase your body’s stability so that it can fight off illnesses more easily.

Antioxidants Generally Found in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Healthy bodies create their own antioxidants to keep the free radicals under control when you are younger, but the body’s antioxidant production tends to slow as you age. A good way to supplement your natural antioxidant production is to eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Berries, nuts, and green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants. Your body can only process antioxidants from natural sources, so you have to get them through eating or drinking the right foods. Over the counter vitamins or supplements are not useful sources of antioxidants.

Spices Provide More Concentrated Antioxidants

The McCormick study showed that dried culinary spices contain higher levels of antioxidants than you would find in a single fruit or vegetable source. Researchers in Australia discovered that a 1/2 teaspoon serving of cloves contained more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup serving of cranberries or blueberries. The same study showed you only need to eat 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano to receive the same antioxidant benefit that you would receive from eating 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes. The concentrated nature of antioxidants in culinary spices makes it easier to consume adequate amounts of antioxidants without increasing your food intake.

Combinations of Spices and Vegetables Can Increase Antioxidant Levels

An additional benefit of using culinary spices for antioxidants is that different combinations of spices can create exponential antioxidant increases. If you add antioxidant rich spices to foods that contain their own natural antioxidants, the antioxidant levels can complement one another to create a higher number of antioxidants than you would have gotten by eating the food or the spices separately. Scientists believe that the flavonoids in the foods react with the antioxidants in the herbs and spices to create this synergistic relationship, providing a more potent antioxidant source.

Some Spices Reduce Harmful Elements in Meats

Grilled meats contain elements like heterocyclic amines and malondialdehyde that can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Using certain spices on the meats can cut down these elements significantly. A Kansas State University research study compared hamburgers cooked with spices to hamburgers cooked without spices and found that those with spices had up to 40% fewer heterocyclic amines than those without spices. The researchers attribute this difference in the elemental makeup of the cooked meat to the presence of antioxidants in the spices that were used. When researchers analyzed the urine of research subjects who ate both types of meat, those who consumed the spiced burgers had measurably less malondialdehyde than those who ate the burgers without spices.

Spices Could Protect against Problems from High Fat Meals

Another study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that using spices can cause your body to react differently after you eat a high fat meal. Typically, you experience a sharp rise in triglyceride activity in your system immediately following a high fat meal. Researchers have found that adding certain culinary spices to the meal will slow down the triglyceride response, which could reduce the possibility of heart disease from eating foods that are high in fats. These preventative effects of antioxidant rich spices are not fully understood by scientists yet, but studies continue to prove that there is a connection between the body’s reaction to high fat foods and antioxidant rich spices.

Best Results with a Wide Variety of Antioxidants

All the research results show that you will receive the best results by including a wide variety of antioxidants in your diet. Diverse types of spices, herbs, fruits, and vegetables each contain different antioxidant compounds. A good combination of foods will ensure that you receive the maximum benefit from all of the different compounds.

Low Fat Diet, Not Just Weight Loss, Cuts Diabetes Risk

10 safe steps to a healthier self-confidence

A recent study, published online May 18 in the American Journal of Clinic Nutrition, states those on a lower-fat diet reduced their risk factors for Type-2 Diabetes even if they did not lose weight. This gives overweight individuals an even greater reason to stick to a low-fat diet. Obesity is a strong risk factor for this life-altering disease. Other common complicates that may benefit include heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

The study showed that those who ate a diet comprised of 27 percent fat and 55 percent carbohydrate, after just eight weeks, had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity.

The low fat diets were especially effective for African American study subjects. You can gain the same health benefits through some simple substitutions that will reduce your risk of developing diabetes and may even help you lose weight.


Substituting high-fat red meats with turkey is a suitable alternative, but only when done correctly. Don’t assume that just because the ground meat is turkey, that it must be low fat. Ground turkey can include dark meat and skin. Those parts of the bird have elevated levels of fat and calories. Instead, look for all white turkey meat or for products that are 95% fat free. While some other meat options are good, such as white chicken meat, veal, and lamb, you should toss most pork and beef products. Loin and round cuts of pork and beef are good, but toss the ground meat, sausages, canned meat, organ meats and hot dogs

Omit Creamy Salad Dressings

Use oil and vinegar based salad dressings, instead of creamy ones. Olive, safflower, corn, sunflower, canola, and soybean oils work best. However, avoid reduced fat dressings. These usually add sugar for flavor, which can add to weight gain and diabetes risk. Another option is to continue using creamy dressing by placing one tablespoon on the edge of the plate, not on the salad. Dip your fork in the dressing and then pick up some of the salad. You will significantly lower your fat intake from dressing without added sugars.

Avoid Flavored Popcorn

“Smart Food” and similar flavored popcorn snacks are loaded with fat and salt. Instead, make popcorn at home, adding a small amount of oil and salt for flavor. Popcorn is a high fiber healthy grain, but only when properly prepared. Avoid popcorn varieties as well. Warm air popped corn is the healthiest choice.

Bake, Broil, Braise or Grill

Of course deep-frying increases, the amount of fat in foods, but pan-frying can make foods unhealthy as well. The best thing you can do is to steam or bake your foods, using cooking spray instead of butter. Healthy oils work well too, but only in moderation. Other options include broiling, braising, poaching, roasting, steaming and grilling.

Reduce Fatty Portions Instead of Substituting with Low Fat Products

Try to avoid purchasing “low fat” or “diet” foods. Many products for dieters include unnatural ingredients. The best way to reduce your fat intake is to eat fewer fatty foods. If a recipe has a large amount of fat, reduce your portion size, rather than substituting artificial ingredients. Studies have already shown that sugar substitutes can have a boomerang effect, causing you to eat more calories than you otherwise would. Fat substitutes may have similar affects. Instead of fat substitutes, eat smaller portions of fatty foods and increase your portions of whole-grains and vegetables.


Low Cholesterol Diet Plan

Healthy food

There are many ways to get started with a low cholesterol diet. An easy start would be to change your grocery store habits. When shopping, start paying attention to labels and focus on low-fat foods like lean meats. A terrific next step would be to focus on how to prepare the foods after you get them home. Of course, you should avoid frying your food. Fried foods add unneeded oil and grease, and in most cases, there’s a way to prepare them that is just as healthy, with all the flavor.

Two healthy ways prepare and cook your food is to try is broiling and steaming. If you broil your meats and dishes, instead of choosing to fry them, you will gain the immediate benefit of a lower fat dish. For instance, if you choose steamed vegetables you will not only reduce the fat levels, but also enhance the flavor and gain the benefit of the vital nutrients that are not lost with frying. It’s like rediscovering what veggies are supposed to taste like.

When steaming vegetables consider selections that are fresh and raw or even organic. Although frozen vegetables are convenient, there’s a loss of both flavor and nutrients. And, to go with those veggies, purchase leaner meats like skinless chicken, fish, or well-trimmed beef. Picking a lower-fat cut of meat will help slash your fat intake and lower your overall cholesterol level.

When you are watching what you eat, your best bet is to count the calories and fat that you eat through every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t forget that when dining out you should also make good choices. You might be surprised that most restaurants are also happy to make slight changes that reduce the fat. Educate yourself on healthy foods, low fat diet plan foods, and monitor your sugar intake. This will improve your overall health and assist you in avoiding the diseases associated with obesity.

Some other ideas:

  • Try adding a variety of nuts into your diet. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, and other nuts have been shown to reduce cholesterol. The polyunsaturated fatty acids in them are beneficial to your cholesterol numbers. In fact, the FDA recommends consuming them every day, as they reduce your risk for heart disease. Be sure to avoid sugar-coated nuts, and watch your overall salt intake. Most nuts are available in unsalted versions.
  • Eat more fish! Two to three servings of fish each week will give you the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce your cholesterol. If you aren’t a fan of fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Make sure the supplement contains omega-3.


Expose Of The Cholesterol Controversy

An article that appeared in the May Medical Counterpoint by a well-known physician and former associate editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Edward, brought out another aspect of the heart disease problem that I hadn’t considered.

The article, “Is Commercialism Controlling the Controversy Over Cho­lesterol?”, examined the motives and interrelationships of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the com­mercial interests whose profits center around food products incorporating polyunsaturated fats and oils. These manu­facturers actively promote the polyunsaturated-fat diet as a means of preventing heart attacks, as well as a treatment for existing heart disease.

According to the National Asso­ciation of Margarine Manufacturers, sales of margarine surpassed butter for the first time, with the average American consuming 8.6 pounds of margarine and 8.3 pounds of butter per year. The figures were 11.3 pounds of margarine consumed compared with only 4.8 pounds of butter per person per year. We have been misled not only by improperly designed laboratory experiments,

But also by special interest groups promoting their products under the guise of innocuous sounding pseudo-scientific committees. In their book, The Cholesterol Controversy, Dr. and Mrs. Pinckney cite the following examples: the American Health Foundation appealed to Congress to make exten­sive changes in the “average American Diet” including greater reliance on polyunsaturated fats a matter of “national policy,” in order to reduce coronary heart disease. The chairman of the foundation, David J. Ma-honey, is president of Norton Simon, Inc., maker of poly-unsaturated Wesson Oil. The foundation made grateful acknowledgment in developing its “position paper” to the director of research of CPC Interna­tional, maker of polyunsaturated Mazola Oil.

She is a member of the foundation’s Committee on Food and Nu­trition, as are others from CPC, Norton Simon and other affected interests, along with, it should be emphasized, unaffiliated scientists.

Dr. George V. Mann of Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine told the fourth annual Food Writers’ Confer­ence, “The evidence that our high-fat diet causes coronary heart disease is trivial despite the whoop­ing of the American Heart Association. They have com­mitted the nutritional disaster of the century by confusing association with causation, to the endless delight and profit of food companies that employ cholesterol-scare tactics in their advertising.”

To pursue the deception fostered by the special interest group and its involvement in the AHA and to thoroughly investigate the cholesterol myth, read The Cholesterol Controversy. Let the Pinckneys set you straight about the facts. Read how margarine manufacturers get away with making ridiculous drug claims for their product. If marga­rine did work as claimed, you would have to eat about three quarters of a pound of 100 percent polyunsaturated margarine to protect against an eight-ounce steak if steak were bad for you. That’s a lot to spread on your toast. Cooking with margarine cannot help either; it loses most of its alleged polyunsaturated activity at frying tempera­tures. Yet we are told by frequent ads that margarine is good for your heart and lowers blood cholesterol.

In the October issue of Media and Consumer, Dr. and Mrs. Pinckney discuss the key facts left out of the most flagrant magazine and newspaper ad of this nature, an ad which at this writing is still appearing: “New Prom­ise Margarine can help lower cholesterol.” The drug claim: “When hundreds of people used Promise Margarine instead of butter in clinical tests, the average cholesterol level for the group went down. In just three weeks.” Some of the facts unrevealed in the ad but uncovered by the Pinckneys include:

  1. Those selected for study had very high blood-cholesterol levels, thus the greatest probability of improve­ment.
  2. Others were rejected because of low probability of achieving a reduction.
  3. Of three experimental groups, one group that ate the margarine had a rise in blood cholesterol.
  4. Another group that ate butter had a reduction in blood cholesterol.
  5. The group that did get lower blood-cholesterol levels while using the margarine was also reducing its calorie intake by 12 percent. This alone would explain the choles­terol reduction. Members of the group also admitted they voluntarily exercised more and smoked less.
  6. The magazine and newspaper advertisements show a bar graph which at first looks like it indicates that people eating butter have blood-cholesterol levels twice as high as those eating Promise. At closer inspection, one can see that the bar graph does not start at zero, but at 190 mg%, and the values given are butter diet, 218 mg%; margarine diet, 208 mg%. But people normally show variances of 10 to 20 percent; ‘thus the values are in the normal variance range and aren’t very significant, even if hundreds of peo­ple were used as subjects.

Other questionable procedures used are not disclosed in the ads, but the above five points should raise your eye­brows and those of the magazine editors that allowed this fraud to be perpetuated. But then again, margarine sales are profitable.

The Promise ad is not an isolated case. What about “Saffola. The change will do your heart good” or “Should an 8-year-old worry about cholesterol?” The ad answers its own question by stating that parents should worry, but they can relieve their worry by feeding the child Saffola margarine. The ad claims this “reduces one important risk of coronary disease.”

“A vital message from the makers of Mazola margarine” provides a further example. The headline of its magazine advertisement implies a relationship to disease and the final paragraph states: “After all, we can’t give you the will­power to lose weight, cut down smoking or take up exercise. But we can give you a good tasting margarine that can be a useful part of your overall heart attack prevention pro­gram.” Then there is the Mazola ad showing a photo of a pre-teenager with the headline, “Is there a heart attack in his future?”

If you aren’t convinced of the “drug-like” nature of that ad, how about the margarine ad with the picture of a heart composed of margarine wrappers? This ad advises us to eat the margarine “for our heart’s benefit.” If margarine helped prevent heart attacks, our heart-attack rate would only be one-third its present level, as two-thirds of all families regularly use margarine these days.

Butter’s Cholesterol versus Margarine’s Chemicals

Bread and Butter

It often seems that making healthy choices is a no-win situation. Sugar or sweetener? Low-fat or full fat? The butter vs. margarine debate also falls into this category. Which is worse? The cholesterol in butter or the trans fats and other chemicals in margarine? Each side has proponents, each side has detractors and people take the question very seriously.

The Bad in Butter

Check the ingredients list on a package of butter and all you are going to find is sweet cream and occasionally salt. Butter also contains 30 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoonful and most people have a tough time sticking to that when they are dressing their baked potatoes. Additionally, butter contains a whopping 7 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon — that’s 37 percent of the recommended daily allowance!

Margarine has no cholesterol because it’s made entirely from vegetable oils. Additionally, margarine has higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — often referred to as the “good” fats. More and more brands of margarine are trading on this, and even add oils that are considered healthy, like canola oil and olive oil, to up the heart-healthy quotient of the spread. But margarine has a dark side of its own: Solid margarines like those found in tubs and sticks contain trans fats. The more solid the margarine, the higher the level of trans fats.

Margarine Mayhem

Why is this important? Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, confuse the body. Hard fats, like butter and lard, are saturated and while they are bad for the body because they are associated with high cholesterol, they are good for cooking, especially for making foods that store longer, which is extremely important for food manufacturers. The fat chains in hard fats are straight and stiff. Liquid fats, or oils, are better for the body and some can lower levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, in the body. Unfortunately, they go rancid faster than hard fats and aren’t good for cooking processed foods. The fat chains in liquid fats are loose and bendy.

To make trans fats, the chemicals bonds are changed, and the bendy fat chains are converted to hard and straight chains. While scientists don’t know for sure exactly what happens when the body processes trans fats, we do know that the body uses partially hydrogenated oils similarly to the way we use saturated fats, effectively cancelling out the previous healthy benefits of the oil. Even worse, trans fats mess with our cholesterol, raising our levels of LDL and lowering our levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.

In addition to the problem of the trans fats, margarine also contains many heavy metals, thanks to the process the oil undergoes to become hard. Some of the chemicals found in margarine include the toxic metals nickel and cadmium.

Reasons to Reconsider Butter

While butter contains saturated fat, our bodies are built to handle it better. Additionally, butter has nutrients, including the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When eaten in moderation, butter can be a viable part of a healthy diet.

The final consideration… When most vegetable oils are heated, such as used for cooking at home, the molecular connections break down, releasing damaging free radicals into the body. Given that trans fats are dangerous enough to be outlawed in some states, butter may be a better option.

Target Heart Rate Calculator

Calculate your target heart rate by using our target heart rate calculator. Just plug in your age, and hit the button and our calculator will determine at which rate your heart needs to be when exercising to burn calories and acquire ultimate fitness levels and results!



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What Is a Target Heart Rate?

A target heart rate is a strategic tool, but measurement that an individual, medical professional, and fitness experts use in order to achieve maximum health levels for cardiovascular health, and fitness levels for aerobic health and diet success. A target heart rate is the extreme opposite of the basal heart rate (which it is derived when the person is asleep or not in any movement), instead it is achieved when working out and performing exercise.

Training Zones

Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) — 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm up for more serious walkers. This zone has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are fats!

Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) — 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.

Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) — 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.

Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) — 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardio respiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you’ll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more calories, 15 % from fat.

Red Line (Maximum Effort) — 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

How to Monitor Heart Rate:

Wearing a heart rate monitor is an easy, accurate method of checking your heart rate… but you don’t have a monitor. Here is another easy way.

The easiest place to feel your own heart beat is the carotid artery. Place your index finger on the side of your neck between the middle of your collar bone and your jaw line. (You may also use the radial artery on the underside of your wrist.) You can count the beats for a full 60 seconds or count for 6 seconds and add a zero at the end. If you felt your heart beat 14 times in 6 seconds, the number would be 140 for a full 60 seconds. Counting for only six seconds is a convenient method, of course it is more accurate to count for the full 60 seconds. You can use several varieties of this method (30 seconds x 2, 15 seconds x 4, etc.). The longer you count the more accurate your reading. Whatever you choose, be consistent in your method.