ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
EYE CARE, VISION
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Barefoot Best for Running?
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Add your Article

Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- In the "maintenance" phase that occurs after initial weight loss, the popular Ornish and South Beach diets seem to be easier on the heart than the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins regimen, a new study finds.

Unlike numerous studies that have evaluated diets to see which might be better at achieving weight loss, this study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, looked at what happens to cholesterol levels and other cardiac risk factors when dieters reach their goal weight and remain on the diet.

The study involved 18 healthy people, with an average body-mass index (BMI) of 22.6 (18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight). Participants completed four weeks each on the Atkins (50 percent fat), South Beach (30 percent fat) and Ornish (10 percent fat) diets, in random order and with a four-week "washout" period between each diet. The study was done from January to December 2006.

The switch between diets meant that "each person served as his own control," explained principal investigator Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

At the start and after each four-week diet, the researchers evaluated cholesterol levels and other cardiac risk factors. They also looked at three-day food records at the end of each diet phase. And they checked blood vessel functioning by measuring blood vessel dilation in the arm.

They found that "as you increase the amount of saturated fat [in the diet], blood vessel dilation is reduced," Miller said. Healthy vessel dilation is important to proper blood flow.

"The diet that performed the worst [on the blood vessel test] was the Atkins diet," Miller said. "It contains more saturated fat."

Participants ate about 30 grams of saturated fat a day while on the Atkins diet, compared to about 14 grams on South Beach and about 3 grams while on Ornish.

"We like to say saturated fat should be below 7 percent of total calories," Miller said. "So, if your caloric intake is 2,000, saturated fat should be about 14 grams [or less] daily."

The researchers also measured cholesterol levels, including total cholesterol, "good" cholesterol (HDL) and "bad" cholesterol (LDL). "On Atkins, cholesterol levels tended to go up," Miller said. "LDL increased by 8 percent [which was not enough to be statistically significant]."

On the South Beach diet, LDL decreased by about 12 percent, and on Ornish it declined by about 17 percent, the study showed.

The findings are published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. An early look at the study was first discussed at the American Heart Association's 2007 annual meeting.

Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian and director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said that although the study was small, the findings are notable.

Representatives from Atkins Nutritionals took exception with the study, however. In a statement, Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals, noted that, "given the short duration of his study, the very small sample size and the weak correlations, drawing conclusions about possible long-term health risks tied to fat consumption in the maintenance phase of any weight control program is not good science." She also questioned whether the participants were actually following a true Atkins diet.

But Diekman saw the results as reason to worry.

"The outcome does show an indication for concern about the impact of a diet like the Atkins diet that relies on a large amount of saturated fat and the effect on heart health," she said.

"More studies are needed in both healthy and overweight individuals, but the early indication of this study is that high-saturated-fat diets are connected to heart disease risk, a fact that has been long known but not always seen when diets high in saturated fat are used for weight loss," Diekman noted.

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers healthy eating tips.



SOURCES: Michael Miller, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, and director, Center for Preventive Cardiology, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore; Connie Diekman, R.D., L.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis; Colette Heimowitz, vice president, nutrition and education, Atkins Nutritionals, Denver; April 2009, Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Last Updated: April 01, 2009

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