June 15, 2009

Veggie Heavy ‘Eco-Atkins’ Diet Improves Cholesterol

One of the hottest diet trends of the past decade is back, but this time, meat is taking a backseat to vegetables.

New research shows that overweight individuals who ate a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet high in plant-based proteins for four weeks lost weight and experienced improvements in blood cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors.

The "Eco-Atkins" diet includes foods high in vegetable proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals and vegetable oils. Canadian researchers tested the effects of this diet on overweight men and women with high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C or "bad" cholesterol) levels to the effects of a high-carbohydrate, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet based on low-fat dairy and whole grain products on similar patients.

In both groups, weight loss was similar -- about 8.8 pounds per person. However, reductions in LDL-C levels and improvements in the ratios between total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C or "good" cholesterol) levels were greater for the low-carb diet compared to the high-carb diet.

The low-carb diet also appeared to produce beneficial changes in levels and ratios of apolipoproteins, proteins that bind to fats. Also, small but significantly greater reductions were seen in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for the low-carb group compared to the high-carb group, researchers said.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, June 8, 2009