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NMU 143 – Low Fat Diet Reduces Breast CA, Diabetes and CHD

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 143 (September 12, 2019)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Low Fat Diet Shown to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer, Heart Disease and Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women

Source: The Journal of Nutrition (June 2019)


A very important study was published in the Journal of Nutrition in June 2019. The study, known as the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, followed almost 49,000 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years old, who originally had a diet whereby at least 32% of daily calories each day were derived from fat – the typical North American Diet. The participants were randomly divided into two groups, whereby one group followed a low-fat diet (20 % calories from fat) and the other group continued to follow the usual high-fat North American diet. At the 19-year follow-up mark the results have shown that women who followed the low-fat dietary program had a 16% reduced risk of dying from breast cancer and a 13% reduction in risk of developing diabetes requiring insulin, and related heart disease risks, compared to the women who continued to eat a higher fat diet. The researchers conclude, “reduction in dietary fat with a corresponding increase in vegetables, fruit, and grains led to benefits related to breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes, without adverse effects, among healthy postmenopausal women”.

This is a very important message in today’s world of confusing dietary recommendations and constantly emerging fad nutrition and diet plans. Over many years the research has continued to support the fact that the consumption of bad fats and too much fat, in general, is a major contributing factor to the development of cancer, high cholesterol and heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

I have worked with patients for many years encouraging them to get their consumption of daily dietary fat consumption down to 20% (or less) of their total calories. When they follow that advice, inevitably their cholesterol drops, their body fat and waist circumference drop towards healthier values, their type 2 diabetes and blood sugar control are better managed. Of course, you can’t be constantly eating sugary foods and beverages. This low-fat diet advice implies that you are also making reasonably healthy choices around carbohydrate and protein foods, with a minimal or acceptable amount of cheating – as we all do.

The question is, how do you get your dietary fat intake down to 20% or less of your total daily calories. Well, this is how I instruct my patients to do it. Eliminate or greatly reduce the intake of the following foods:

  • Most cakes – other than Angel Food Cake. The frosting of cake is especially loaded with saturated fat
  • Donuts and many other pastries (Cruller, Danish pastry, cream puffs, chocolate eclair, pie and/or pie crust, any product with milk chocolate- chocolate bar).
  • Even some muffins have more than 2 gm of saturated fat. So, check the label or the company’s nutrition guide.
  • Many types of biscuits
  • Pancakes – depending on how they are made
  • French toast – depending on how they are made
  • All Beef and beef products – red meat
  • All Pork and pork products
  • Lamb
  • Organ Meats
  • Butter and Lard
  • Cream and Ice cream
  • Any milk of yogurt above 1% milk fat
  • Any cheese above 3% milk fat
  • Foods containing Palm oil
  • Coconut oil and foods that contain them, including some Plant-based meat alternative products (read labels)
  • Shortening
  • Also, some breakfast cereals (read the package)
  • Potato chips, cheeses and the like (look for lower fat alternatives – Crispy minis, Skinny Pop Popcorn, low-fat fudgesicle)
  • Some prepackaged popcorn and popcorn you buy at the movies
  • A low-fat diet also implies no cream sauces, no tahini sauce or creamy salad dressings, or the consumption of mayonnaise.

Healthier fats, which you can use in small quantities include:

  • Olive Oil and other oils high monounsaturated fat
  • Avocado
  • Fish and fish oil (1,000 – 3,000 mg per day)
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Nuts and olives (a handful of nuts per day and easy on the olives)
  • Peanut butter
  • Hummus- chickpeas and sesame seed oil, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.

Of course, there is a bit of fat in some allowable low-fat protein foods, such as chicken breast, turkey breast, Cornish hen, soy products. There is virtually no fat in egg whites, beans, peas and whey protein products, which are also great sources of protein. Most fruit and vegetables are also virtually fat-free. So, I encourage you to work towards getting your total dietary fat intake down to 20% or less of your daily calories.

It’s an important proactive strategy that can markedly improve your health profile, your risk of many diseases, and your body shape, in a surprisingly short period of time. I’m talking about a major transformation.

I’ve included the reference for this information in the text below.



Prentice RL, Aragaki AK, Howard BV, Chlebowski RT, Thompson CA et al. Low-fat dietary pattern among postmenopausal women influences long-term cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes outcomes. The Journal of Nutrition. 2019. 149 (9):1565-1574.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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