ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
Coffee Beans May Be Newest Stress-Buster
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
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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