Thursday, April 2, 2009

Study: Atkins Diet Ups Health Risks

Well, well, wouldn't you know...another fad diet proves to be bad for your health instead of beneficial.

Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a study was performed to compare three common diets - the Atkins, the South Beach and the Ornish - to see if, aside from weight loss, there were other effects of the diets on health during periods of weight maintenance.

18 participants were on each diet for a period of four weeks, but the goal was not to lose weight - they ate the same number of calories per day. The point was to see what happens to the body just by maintaining weight and consuming the types of foods that the diets entail. There was a wash out period of four weeks in between each so that the effects observed from one diet would not transfer to the next.

Following each dietary phase, The researchers analyzed 3-day food records, drew fasting blood, and performed tests of brachial artery reactivity (how stretchy their arteries were; stretchy = good). On the South Beach and Ornish diets, levels of LDL (aka bad cholesterol) and apolipoprotein B (related to LDL, common measure of heart disease risk; also bad) were significantly reduced. This is in contrast to the findings on the Atkins diet. Moreover, the researchers found that the more saturated fat that was consumed, the lower the ability was of veins and arteries to dilate due to blood flow (translation - stiffer blood vessels = bad). This is exactly what they found on the Atkins diet, but not on the other two. Not to mention the fact that the consumption of large amounts of red and processed meats on a daily basis increases the risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease and just dying over all.

All in all, if overweight individuals go on the Atkins diet hoping to lose a few pounds, they might just end up with a one-way ticket to heart disease and other adverse health effects! Wow, sounds great! Sign me up!