Skip to comments.Low-Carb Diet Doesn't Raise Heart Risk
Posted on 11/08/2006 9:00:46 PM PST by Mr. Mulliner
Low-Carb Diet Doesn't Raise Heart Risk
Eating a low-carb, high-fat diet for years doesn't raise the risk of heart disease, a long-term study suggests, easing fears that the popular Atkins diet and similar regimens might set people up for eventual heart attacks.
The study of thousands of women over two decades found that those who got lots of their carbohydrates from refined sugars and highly processed foods nearly doubled their risk of heart disease.
At the same time, those who ate a low-carb diet but got more of their protein and fat from vegetables rather than animal sources cut their heart disease risk by 30 percent on average, compared with those who ate more animal fats.
The findings came from researchers at Harvard University's schools of medicine and public health who reviewed records of 82,802 women in the ongoing Nurses' Health Study over 20 years. The women were not dieting to lose weight. In fact, on average they were slightly overweight and increased their body-mass index roughly 10 percent during the study.
Conventional wisdom says risk of heart disease should increase for those eating the lowest-carb, highest-fat diet, said lead author Thomas Halton.
"It didn't, which was a little eye-opening," he said.
Halton said that may be because the women eating the fewest carbs were compared directly to the group eating the highest-carb, lowest-fat diet.
"Neither diet is ideal," he said. "You need to take the best of both."
The findings, reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, came from an analysis of food questionnaires the nurses filled out every two to four years starting in 1980. The nurses also reported their use of aspirin, vitamins and hormones for menopause symptoms, and on any history of smoking and heart problems.
The researchers calculated the percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates and animal and vegetable fats and proteins, then divided the nurses into 10 groups, from the lowest to the highest calorie percentage from carbs.
The lowest-carb group ate carbohydrate amounts similar to the maintenance program of the Atkins diet, less extreme than the early phase of the diet, said dietitian Geri Brewster, former nutrition director at the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in Manhattan.
Still, she said most women in this study ate fewer carbohydrates than traditional diets recommend. While she thinks the Atkins diet allows too much animal fat, Brewster said reducing carbohydrates works because it forces the body to convert stored fat into an energy source and can curb appetite.
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Susan Moores, a dietitian in St. Paul, Minn., said that because the study only included women, many going through menopause and taking hormones, it is unclear how it applies to men.
For Moores, the key finding was that women reduced heart disease risk by eating more protein and fat from vegetable sources.
"That was the biggest, "Aha!'" she said.
Dr. Robert Eckel, immediate past president of the American Heart Association, said the study was well done, but noted that the nurses' recall of what they ate likely isn't perfect.
Eckel, an endocrinologist at University of Colorado School of Medicine, said many studies have shown heart disease risk is cut by eating less fat and more whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables - the approach of the government's food pyramid. He said medical guidelines won't be changed by the new study, although it raises questions about the role of refined sugar.
On the Net: http://www.nejm.org
American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org
American Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org
Get a couple of teeth pulled, like I did recently. Best incentive for a diet ever.
I LC diet, plus I was just diagnosed with Diabetes. LC is the ONLY way I can ever lose any significant amount of weight. It's tough, but for the right body type it's a lifesaver.
This is not a surprise. The body makes it's own "fat" out of whatever is eaten. If you eat carbs, it makes fat. If you eat protein, it makes fat. If you eat fat, it makes fat.
It seems that if you consume lots of Omega 3 fats, your body might well reduce the amount of Omega 6 fats it makes.
Lots of unknowns here.
If you overeat carbohydrates insulin will help store it away in fat cells.
Every diabetic knows that carbs must be controlled or you will die.
I lost nearly 40 lbs in 4 months using Atkins about 5 years ago. After gradually gaining back a lot of that weight, I decided to give it another go, but I felt like my results weren't the same.
I'm now going to the gym for fairly rigorous workouts 3-4 times a week, but at the suggestion of a trainer I'm not going so low-carb. I have carbs in the morning in the form of bread, fruit or oatmeal, but eat low-carb after that. The weight loss this time is much slower and I'm tempted to go back to what I did before.
Can you tell me more about Omega-6 fats? I've been taking a fairly high dose of Omega-3 fats for about 6 weeks to help with depression and stress and I've found it to be pretty effective. What other benefits am I getting from the Omega-3?
Really? I know a guy who would find this interesting. He was told to diet or he was a risk for a major heart attack. He went on the Atkins diet. He was put on heart medication because the Atkins diet was causing heart problems.
You can find out as much as anyone about Omega 3 by reading the SCIENTIFIC PAPERS on the net. The first 100 or so references you will run into are mostly advertising, so just skip on by.
The Atkins diet book cites lots of studies that said pretty much what this study was saying. In fact, I believe that Dr. Atkins came up with his diet specifically for his heart patients.
When I did Atkins, my sister, a nurse, seemed skeptical about Atkins, but I kept sending her the results of my blood work and she really came around. My cholesterol numbers improved and my lipids went way down.
Thought y'all might like to read this article.
Hey kimmie, you've got a buddy here! I had insulin-dependent gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter 22 years ago, and am considered to be prediabetic now. I've been keeping my blood sugar at record-low levels (and keeping myself off insulin) for the last three years with the Atkins diet - and my cholesterol tested low, too. Low-carb really does work far better than the diabetic diet for high blood, as far as I'm concerned...
Of course not. What else is new?
Thanks. Good to see you!!
I so agree. I'm on metformin, but have a lot more weight to lose and plan to continue my LC odyssey.
For anyone wanting some great LC recipes, try here:
I've gotten a bunch from there!
thanks for the link,
Thanks! My husband is diabetic with high blood pressure & cholesterol issues. Menu planning can be a nightmare sometimes. The site looks interesting.
I think the Ornish plan is better. Lots of fish and fresh vegetables. It's low carb with the right fats for heart health.
What kind of fat was he eating? I mean there were people going crazy with the bacon,etc.etc. I tried Atkins. Didn't work for me. I don't eat meat now and eat fresh veggies, fruits,etc. and I've lost a lot of inches and am healthier now than I ever been.
it takes so long to lose weight on that plan.
"He went on the Atkins diet. He was put on heart medication because the Atkins diet was causing heart problems."
there are kinder gentler approaches like the South Beach diet.
I'm just starting "You - On A Diet" that explains how the body reacts to dieting - he might find some interesting info in there too.
You're welcome! I have yet to get a clunker from that site. They've all been very good.
Hint: Do a search for my "So Yummy Chicken Dip" -- it's UNREAL how good it is!!!!!!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.