ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Coffee Beans May Be Newest Stress-Buster
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
Go To Work But Skip The Car
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
More Single Women Are Having Babies
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
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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