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Vegetarian Atkins Diet Could Help Lower Risk of Heart Disease

June 9, 2009

A plant-based version of the Atkins low-carb diet could allow people to lose weight while keeping cholesterol levels down, researchers reported on Tuesday.

The plant-based variation of the high protein diet could help overweight people shed pounds while being free of risk factors such as heart diseases.

Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto in Ontario, led a team to study the effectiveness of the so-called Eco-Atkins diet among a group of 44 overweight men and women with high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL.

Participants were split equally into two groups; the first group ate the Eco-Atkins diet for four weeks, meanwhile, the control group ate a high-carb, low-fat diet based on low-fat dairy and whole grain foods.

“There is a dilemma relating to the proportion and source of fat, protein and carbohydrate that constitutes the optimal weight loss and cholesterol-lowering diet,” authors wrote in the June 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Both groups ate an estimated 60 percent of their calorie requirements.

Researchers noted that weight loss in both groups was similar ““ about 8.8 pounds. But when they looked at cholesterol levels, they found that HDL levels were greater for the low-carbohydrate diet compared with the high-carbohydrate diet.

Researchers said the study suggests that a plant-based version of the Atkins diet could be the right option for people with high cholesterol that want to shed pounds.

“A plant-based low-carbohydrate diet high in vegetable proteins and oils may be an effective option in treating those with dyslipidemia for whom both weight loss and lower LDL-C concentrations are treatment goals,” they wrote.

“The article by Jenkins et al provides insight into debatably more effective and possibly safer tactics for designing higher-protein diets for weight loss and cardiovascular risk reduction,” Katherine R. Tuttle, M.D., and Joan E. Milton, M.S., R.D., C.D., of the Providence Medical Research Center at Sacred Heart Medical Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine, Spokane, Wash., wrote in an accompanying editorial.

However, it is premature to recommend the ‘Eco-Atkins’ diet as a weight loss diet of choice without confirmation of its efficacy in larger studies of more diverse and higher-risk individuals. Long-term studies are also essential to ascertain both sustainability and safety.”

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