High Fat, Low Carb Diets Safe For Heart Health


2011-06-01 13:33

Two new Johns Hopkins studies say that the popular Atkins-type diets consisting of low-carb and high-fat meal plans pose no heart health risk for the obese.

Researchers from the Heart and Vascular Institute at Johns Hopkins University conducted two separate studies examining the relationship of popular diets to weight loss and heart health. Lead researcher on the study and exercise physiologist Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. said that perhaps an overemphasis on low-fat diets in the United States has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the US. In a press release statement they explain that low-fat dieting encourages the over-consumption of low-fat foods, which tend to be less filling.

However, in recent years popular low-carb diets like Atkins, South Beach, and the Zone have also been criticized because, although they avoid carbs, they tend to tolerate a higher fat intake. High intake of fat increases blood cholesterol which in turn causes plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, when it comes down to choosing a weight-loss program, no wonder people are confused.

The first study, which will be presented at the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, the researchers studied 46 participants who weighed on average 218 pounds. They were assigned to a 6-month exercise program plus either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet. The low-carb dieters were allowed 30 percent of calories from pastas, breads, and fruits and 40 percent of their diet came from fats (meat, dairy, nuts, etc.). In contrast the low-fat dieters were allowed no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and 55 percent from carbs.

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According to the study results, both groups lost an average of 10 pounds, however it took the low-fat group a whole month longer to reach the weight loss. Additionally, the low-carb, high-fat group showed no evidence of increased cardiovascular risk.

"Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide re-assurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health," says Stewart. "More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option," he adds.

The second study looked at the short-term cardiovascular effects of eating an extremely high-fat meal. The researchers examined participants blood vessels prior to eating a McDonald's meal consisting of two English McMuffins and hashbrowns as well as after. The researchers were surprised to find that there was no immediate effect of this meal on the vascular system.

"Even consuming a high-fat meal now and then does not seem to cause any immediate harm to the blood vessels," says Stewart. However, he cautions again habitual eating of these types of foods.

In summary, the Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that for obese people looking to loose weight, a low-carb, high-fat diet may be a safe and effective choice.

"Overweight and obese people appear to really have options when choosing a weight-loss program, including a low-carb diet, and even if it means eating more fat," says Stewart.

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Comments

nice imformation. Obesity is a deisease everyone should take initiative to lose weight and keep themselve fit and healthy to stay away from any diseases.
"High intake of fat increases blood cholesterol which in turn causes plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to cardiovascular disease." Hmmm, what study proves that?
I agree, there is no study which proves it
For the guy asking about studies there are tons. How about the University of Alabama one for starters. Second, these studies were short term meaningless things that only consider weight loss for a short time not long term health consequences. ALL long term studies show a low carb diet being bad for your health. It killed my dad and I don't care what anyone thinks about that because he had a massive heart attack after following the stupid Atkins diet for a couple of years.
Firstly- Sorry about your Dad. Secondly- The comment was about how there is not a study proving that dietary fat intake affects blood cholesterol, not if a high fat diet was good or bad. Had you actually read the study you mentioned , instead of just the headlines, You would of read that "Lloyd (UAB cardiologist Steven Lloyd, M.D., Ph.D, Lead researcher) says by no means does this research say no one should be on a high-fat, low-carb diet. In fact, these diets have been shown to improve certain markers in cholesterol profiles and they do help people lose weight. What it does say, he says, is that much more investigation is needed into the benefits and risks of a high-fat, low-carb diet."
I read it. But as you pointed out the headline misleads people to think it is a safe diet and the comment implied the same whether you wanted it to or not. Also there have been scores of long term studies showing low fat and the affect on plaque build up and cholesterol but people don't want to believe those, they would rather follow some short term meaningless study or some nonsense personal story. Not only is low fat preventative but thousands of people have reversed heart disease with a very low fat diet. Proven, documented, but still people want to discount it. Any DIET, meaning LESS FOOD can have short term benefits. Look at the guy that ate Twinkies but overall less calories for a short term trial. But long term, which has been studied a LOT shows what happens on such diets.
^ Actually theres plenty of research linking high carb, low fat diets to heart disease. A whole heap. Nutritional science is alot vaguer and less conclusive that people like to think. Using words like "proven" just in such a vague and inconclusive science just shows how poorly most people understand science in general. Science doesnt prove anything, it disproves things. Theres no such thing as "proven", just more heavily tested. The lipid hypothesis is not all that heavily tested. Not only that, do you have any idea of how hard it is to control for variables in nutritional science, or how useless correlation can be? Nobody eats just one nutrient, nor would it be ethical to put someone on such a diet. The _correlation_ between dietary fat, LDL and heart disease is quite weak, even if you buy into the lipid hypothesis, its not a pure 1 to 1, causal link. I'd bet that heart disease is more strongly correlated with wearing blue jeans...
What a bunch of bull. I bet you haven't read one thing but go ahead and eat your high fat Atkins diet and see how you fair. There have been studies that took decades to do with as many variables as possible controlled and they all say, without a doubt, meat and high fat and animal products are bad for you.
I have been reading alot of studies recently. Hence why I know that virtually any idea one can come up with is supported by numerous studies in nutrition. The fact remains, the lipid hypothesis is not heavily tested. It is weakly supported, over and over again. But that doesnt eliminate bias. It either needs a strong correlation, which it lacks, or to be heavily tested (attempts to disprove it), before it could possibly be accepted as "without a doubt". The same kind of correlation can be found with high carbs diets and heart disease, which people usually adopt in the place of fats. In fact, in the face of what ive read, a moderate everything diet (moderate fat, moderate protein, moderate carbs) is probably the safest bet, in terms of studies, if we are to leap to conclusions without final certainty. As far as your studies controlling for all variables - do they control for vegetable oil intake, each type of saturated fatty acid, each type of unsaturated fatty acid, low GI carbs versus high gi carbs, refined sugar intake, vitamin levels? No, they do not. The control for _all saturated fats_, where science has proven they are not the same. An excellent example is lauric acid, the fat in coconut. Lauric acid does not raise LDL cholesterol as much as other sat fats. The pacific islanders used to eat lots of coconuts, taro and fish and were in excellent health until they started eating our foods. The inuits, and massai both eat a virtually carb free diet, eating loads of saturated fats (but no sugar, no vege oils, no carbs), and they were in excellent health. Studying eaters of mcdonalds & fast food in america and saying fat is correlated with heart disease ignores that those people are also eating vegetable oils high in omega-6, refined wheat flour carbs, and massive amounts of sugar. They are nothing like the inuit or massai, diet wise who primarily eat bucket loads of meat, a bit of blood, and in the massais case milk..
OMG you are quoting that idiot that passes around his garbage about some tribes living on fat. He is a quack that has no facts. And by the way, those tribal people don't live that long so if that is your desire by all means eat a lot of fat. And then you try to flip to bad carbs. Yes, bad carbs are bad, sugar, white processed crap, but not fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains of which all the blue zone people consume with little meat and fat and they have more people living over 100 than any other group. So, you say you have read a lot but it sounds like junk science you are reading. Search blue zones!
Well I was talking about reading academic studies. I have no idea who you think I am quoting. The diet of the massai, and the innuit can be looked up on wikipedia if you so choose. Its pretty obvious they weren't all keeling over from heart attacks like the west is, although neither of those tribes still eat their traditional diets so its impossible to know exactly how healthy they were now. Regardless, nutrition is complex. The china study for example linked wheat strongly with heart disease and obesity. Its one of the biggest epidemiology studies there is. Does it cause those things? IDK. Its correlated strongly with them in china. Certainly theres something in the western diet thats contributing to heart disease. I would _guess_ that its not fat, because man has survived on animal meat since our begining, even before fire. Theres nothing wed be more adapted to food wise. Grains on the other hand, when they were introduced in egypt caused a huge tide of stillbirths. Its unlikely we are fully adapted to those IMO. I know they give me trouble, regardless of what anyone else finds. I eat vegetables. I eat fruits (not the high sugar agriculturally engineered ones, but apples, pears, berries). I would eat tubers if my body could tolerate them, but I currently dont. I dont eat wheat, or grains, and I never will. They have no nutrients to speak of, and they are chock full of anti-nutrients. Ill leave those to birds, who are evolved to eat them. I would never eat more that 150grams of carbohydrate a day myself. I might eat more than that if I was very active. Currently I eat about 70 grams a day, mostly fruit. I dont want to live forever, either. If i was interested in very long life, id be doing one of those caloric restriction programs. I just want to be healthy while I am alive, and not die of something stupid. Tribal people not living all that long is kind of a misnomer. There average age of death is brought down by massive stillbirths etc. Then further by contagious disease. In current modern hunter gatherer populations, there are people who reach 100. Many of those populations eat predominantly meat. I dont want to back and forth with you forever about diet. I would rather argue with a seventh day adventist about religion than engage in a dialectic diet conversation that never evolves. I choose to eat less carbs. I am not avoiding fruit or veg or anything. I am doing better on this diet than I ever have in the past. What I have read implicates high carb diets in heart disease, as much as fat is implicated, perhaps more, because nothing is more associated with the risk, than small dense LDL. I choose to eat a diet rich in nutrients, full of veg, fruit, nuts, fish, shellfish and meat, and avoid foods empty of nutrients and hard to process, like sugar, grains and vegetable oils. I personally need to eat lower carb for my health. If i was healthy, id probably eat moderate carb via nuts, fruits and tubers, and probably something like 100-120 grams a day. Id still eat lots of fat though. Whatever you choose to do is fine too. Its your body. But the science? Well what science.... You cant isolate and control for individual nutrients. So what we are left with is combining epidemiology (mere correlation), with intervention studies (more correlation) and animal studies (more guess work). Which is all pretty weak IMO. Theres no direct links. Theres no causality. They are mostly studying people who will simply eat anything, and particularlly ultrapaletable foods. Mcd, KFC, burger king, takeaways etc. Is it any surprise that in this context more fat is more unhealthy? They are eating vegetable oils, refined sugars, processed meats, refined carbs. Theres almost nothing in that that the human body is evolved to digest and use. Whats even more shocking is they advise people to eat more novel modern foods- vege oils, refined carbs, in order to avoid heart disease. Thats a big lol, because consumption of those products over the last 50 years of that advise (and the decrease in consumption of saturated fat) correlates to a massive rise in heart disease, and obesity. Thanks for introducing me to another diet theory (blue zone). Nice talking with you.
Whatever dude, be a fool. Oh, and your problem is you believe in evolution which is stupid and throws off your thinking on this. But for anyone else interested look up the blue zone research. It is not a diet theory, it is where they studied the places that have the highest number of people living over 100. In every single case they ate very little or no meat , low fat and lots of natural foods like fruit, veggies, rice, etc.
LOL you are quoting that idiot that passes around his garbage about some tribes living on fat. He is a quack that has no facts. And by the way, those tribal people don't live that long so if that is your desire by all means eat a lot of fat. And then you try to flip to bad carbs. Yes, bad carbs are bad, sugar, white processed crap, but not fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains of which all the blue zone people consume with little meat and fat and they have more people living over 100 than any other group. So, you say you have read a lot but it sounds like junk science you are reading. Search blue zones!
Condolences for the loss of your dad. However, it is not low carb that killed him; it was the years of eating a high carb diet that brought him to the point of no return.
What absolute BS