Dietary fat is usually presumed to he the culprit in weight gain. But new research

suggests that another factor, the food’s caloric density, also matters

— regardless of where the calories come from.

Researchers served 18 women all their meals during three separate two-day sessions. The meals were virtually identical each session, except in caloric density. For example, during one session, the researchers served a “high density” pasta salad that had about 130 calories in a 3-ounce (84 gms) portion. In another they served a “low density”

version, with less pasta and more vegetables, that had 75 calories in the same portion. The amount each woman ate was measured, and the volunteers filled out questionnaires to rate their feelings of hunger.

The differences in caloric density, it turned out, had no effect on how much food the volunteers ate or how hungry they felt during the day. That meant that the women consumed considerably more calories when they ate high-density meals than when they ate low-density meals about 425 more per day.

Those findings suggest that people trying to control their weight might make the task easier by filling up on low-calorie foods. However, it will do you well to keep in mind that while foods naturally low in fat, such as fruits and vegetables, tend to be low in caloric density, foods manufactured to be low in fat, such as baked goods and snacks, are often just as calorie dense as the highFat foods they’re meant to replace.

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