More Popular Diets Come Under Scrutiny, May Increase Heart Risks

By Dr Dave Robinson

I have espoused for years that nutritionally limited diets and calorie restricting diets will come with consequences.

The high-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet may put followers at greater risk for heart disease over a very short period of time (1 month), a new study suggests. While the maintenance phase of the Atkins diet may cause an increase in “bad” cholesterol and other markers for heart disease, when weight loss is not experienced, experts report.

Lead researcher Dr. Michael Miller, author of the study, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore said, “I think the Atkins diet is potentially detrimental for cardiovascular health, if maintained for a long duration and without attempts to lose weight. A stabilizing Atkins diet is not the way to go.”

Also under scrutiny in the trial are the popular South Beach or Ornish diets.

Several studies involving diet and nutrition are being done at this week’s annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Robert Bonow, immediate past president of the American Heart Association, a Goldberg Distinguished professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and chief of the division of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago says, “With the Atkins diet, you do lose weight and experience a short-term beneficial effect on lipid parameters, but the concern would be long-term. Saturated fats are not good for heart health, and many people experience rebound weight gain which is not good.”

One trial involved 18 healthy adults completed four weeks each on the Atkins (50 percent fat), South Beach (30 percent fat) and Ornish (10 percent fat) diets. Researchers found that those on the Atkins diet had increased levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and an increase in blood markers for inflammation by as much as 30 percent or 40 percent.

“We recommend weight loss in a slow and consistent manner rather than a crash course,” said Bonow.

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