High-protein, low-carb diets may help people shed pounds, but once the battle is won, diets low in saturated fat are the healthiest choice, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Like other studies, this new investigation looked at three popular diets: Atkins, South Beach and the low-fat Ornish plan.
The Atkins diet slashes carbohydrates while allowing foods high in saturated fat, like butter and red meat. The South Beach emphasizes moderate amounts of unsaturated fat, like olive oil, and "good" carbohydrates like vegetables and beans.
The Ornish plan is a vegetarian diet that is very low in fat overall and intended to prevent and treat heart disease.
For this study, 26 healthy, non-obese adults follow each of the diets for one month each. The goal was not to have them lose weight, but to study the effects of each diet on blood cholesterol, blood vessel function and inflammation.
After one month, the study found, the Atkins diet had caused participants' "bad" LDL cholesterol to tick upward. In contrast, the South Beach and Ornish plans led to averaged 12 percent and 17 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol, respectively.
The low-fat vegetarian Ornish diet also had the best impact on blood vessel function because it was lowest in saturated fat.
Anyone who sheds pounds would likely see improvements in LDL cholesterol and blood vessel function, regardless of which diet they ate.
Looking at long-term eating habits once weight loss has been attained, a diet low in saturated fat represents an excellent diet prescription for a healthy heart, says the lead researcher of this study.
For more tips on heart healthy eating, pick up a copy of Leslie Beck's Heart Healthy Foods for Life.
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