Study finds low-carb diet superior to low-fat diet in decreasing risk of heart disease

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I was interested to read about the latest news to come out of the nutrition world.  A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was greater weight loss and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in those eating a low-carbohydrate diet versus those eating a low-fat diet. Read more about the study here at the New York Times.

I couldn’t help but relate this to my own journey with diet. Lenore and I both follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as outlined in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.  The diet severely limits carbohydrates and sugars and has a focus on protein and fat. It has many similarities to the Paleo diet, which also has been increasing in popularity and is being used by some to treat various illnesses, for an example take a look at Mickey Trescott’s blog, Autoimmune Paleo.

It was interesting to read that this recent study found that those who followed a low- carbohydrate diet had a statistically significant reduction in their C-reactive protein (referred to as CRP and is a marker of inflammation) level when compared to those following a low-fat diet. I find this to be a particularly interesting finding for those, like myself, who are battling an autoimmune disease where trying to control inflammation is paramount. Of course controlling inflammation is important for those with cardiovascular risk factors such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes because we know that an elevated CRP level is also an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The study also found the high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, otherwise referred to as the “good cholesterol”, improved more significantly in those on the high fat diet. While my cholesterol had never been much of a problem my pre-diet numbers were low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” of 88, with a general goal in most patients of being under 100, and my HDL at 46, with the goal in most patients of being above 40. After following this low carbohydrate diet myself for 3 months I had my numbers re-checked. I was shocked to see that my LDL and HDL were now equal at 68! Of course this is not by any means a comprehensive scientific study as I am the only participant, but still I found these numbers to be compelling.

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It will be interesting to see how this diet conversation unfolds as the conventional wisdom for many years has always been to follow a low-fat diet, especially if you are at risk for heart disease. I’ll keep you updated as I learn more!

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