ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
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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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