- New research has concluded that some calories are more harmful than others.
- This reinforces the idea that what you’re eating is just as important, if not more important than, how much of it you’re eating.
- The study found that drinking sugar-sweetened drinks increases your risk factor of obesity-related diseases compared to eating the caloric equivalent of starch.
- The researchers also found that aspartame (an artificial sweetener) won’t make you gain weight.
The paper, published in Obesity Reviews by 22 American scientists from different universities, provides further evidence to suggest that if you want to reduce your risk of diseases associated with obesity you should be looking at the nutritional value of what you eat, and not just how many calories it may contain. A healthy diet is based on more than just “energy balance.”
“Calories from any food have the potential to increase risk for obesity and cardio-metabolic disease because all calories can directly contribute to positive energy balance and fat gain,” the study says.
“However, various dietary components or patterns may promote obesity and cardiometabolic disease by additional mechanisms that are not mediated solely by caloric content.”
The researchers found that drinking sugar-sweetened drinks is worse than eating the caloric equivalent amounts of starchy foods, such as potatoes. Consumption of the former can “clearly increase” your risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease, among other chronic health problems.
The paper also summarises evidence that risks even increase when sugars are consumed as part of diets that do not result in weight gain.
Lead author Dr. Kimber Stanhope of the University of California, Davis, said: “This thorough academic review of the current body of nutrition research is a valuable contribution that may both improve the design of future research and focus attention on research areas that may have the greatest impact in slowing the epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes.”
The researchers added that their findings were inconclusive regarding other issues, such as low-fat versus low-carb diets.
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Sweeteners won’t make you fat
The research drew another conclusion among the authors of the study: that aspartame (an artificial sweetener) won’t make you gain weight.
“If you go on the internet and look up aspartame, the layperson would be convinced that aspartame is going to make them fat, but it’s not,” Stanhope said. “The long and short of it is that no human studies on noncaloric sweeteners show weight gain.”
The researchers also concurred that consumption of polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts or seeds, lowers the risk of disease when compared to equal amounts of saturated fats. However, dairy foods like cheese and yogurts, which can be high in saturated fats, have been associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk.