Forget what you learned in the ’80s: Here’s the best way to eat less fat


Back in the late 1970s and ’80s, fat became the enemy. Health experts recommended reducing fats in the diet to lower cholesterol, and the food industry responded with fat-free cookies, reduced-fat peanut butter and nonfat cheese. But in processed foods, losing fat meant losing flavor. So, added sugar and refined carbohydrates replaced the fat in a lot of foods.

“When the health recommendations said to lower fats, rather than eating fruits, vegetables, pulses and whole grains, people veered toward a high-refined-carbohydrate, high-sugar diet. That can be a recipe for some health problems,” Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian based in New York City and the coauthor of “Sugar Shock,” told TODAY.

These days, we have a better understanding of the different types of fats in our diet and the roles they play. And some people turn to low-fat diets to lose weight. But do they work? And are they healthy? Let’s dig in.

What is a low-fat diet?

The U.S. dietary guidelines call for up to 35% of calories to come from fat. Low-fat diets aim for 30% or less — sometimes much less. Foods that contain 3 grams of fat per 100 calories or less are considered low-fat foods.

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