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Low Carb Diets Linked to Heart Disease?

By Rob Poulos...

Hope you are doing well… I was catching up on some emails
and was altered about a fairly new SHOCKING study on low
carb eating plans that was done a few months back…

The crazy discovery from this study is still preliminary and
awaiting peer review (this means a bunch of other experts in
white coats have to agree on the results!)-

But take a look at what they found and you’ll be very

STUDY: Low-Carb Diets Linked To Atherosclerosis And Impaired
Blood Vessel Growth

(Excerpts Taken from Science Daily, Aug 25th, 2009)

Little is known about low-carb eating plans long-term
effects on vascular health.

Now, a study led by a scientific team at Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides some of the first
data on this subject, demonstrating that mice placed on a
12-week low carbohydrate/high-protein diet showed a
in the heart’s arteries and a leading cause of heart attack
and stroke.

The findings also showed an impaired ability to form new
blood vessels in tissues deprived of blood flow, as might
occur during a heart attack.

Described in the online version of the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study also found
that standard markers of cardiovascular risk, including
cholesterol, were not changed in the animals fed the
low-carb diet, despite the clear evidence of increased
vascular disease.

Senior author Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, Director of
Cardiovascular Research in BIDMC’s CardioVascular Institute
and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and his
coauthors found that the increase in plaque build-up in the
blood vessels and the impaired ability to form new vessels
were associated with a reduction in vascular progenitor
cells, which some are thinking could play a protective role
in maintaining vascular health.

“This may be the mechanism behind the adverse vascular
effects we found in mice that were fed the low-carb diets.”


The study’s first author Shi Yin Foo, MD, PhD, a clinical
cardiologist in the Rosenzweig laboratory at BIDMC, first
embarked on this investigation after seeing heart-attack
patients who were on these diets and after observing
Rosenzweig himself following a low-carbohydrate regimen.

“Over lunch, I’d ask Tony how he could eat that food and
would tell him about the last low-carb patient I’d admitted
to the hospital,” says Foo. “Tony would counter by noting
that there were no controls for my observations.”

“Finally,” adds Rosenzweig, “I asked Shi Yin to do the mouse
experiment ? so that we could know what happens in the blood
vessels and so that I could eat in peace.”

The investigators proceeded to study a mouse model of
atherosclerosis. These “ApoE” mice were fed one of three

1. A standard diet of mouse “chow” (65 percent carbohydrate;
15 percent phat; 20 percent protein)

2. A “Western diet” in keeping with the average human diet
(43 percent carbohydrate; 42 percent phat; 15 percent
protein; and 0.15 percent cholesterol)

3. A low-carb/high-protein diet (12 percent carbohydrate; 43
percent phat; 45 percent protein; and 0.15 percent

“We had a diet specially made that would mimic a typical
low-carb diet,” explains Foo.

The scientists then observed the mice after six weeks, and
again at 12 weeks. The study revealed that the low-carb
eating animals’ blood vessels exhibited a significantly
greater degree of atherosclerosis, as measured by plaque
accumulation: 15.3 percent compared with 8.8 percent among
the Western diet group.

(As expected, the mice on the chow diet showed minimal
evidence of atherosclerosis compared with either of the
other two groups.)

“Our next question was, ‘Why do the low-carb mice have such
an increase in atherosclerosis?'” says Foo.

Searching for an explanation, she and her coauthors
proceeded to measure the usual markers thought to contribute
to vascular disease, including the animals’ cholesterol and
triglyceride levels, oxidative stress, insulin and glucose,

“In each case, there was either no difference in
measurements compared with the mice on the Western Diet
[which contains the same amount of phat and cholesterol] or
the numbers slightly favored the low-carb cohort,” she adds.

“None of these results explained why the animals’ blood had
more atherosclerotic blockages and looked so bad.”

The investigators, therefore, looked at the animals’
endothelial or vascular progenitor cell (EPC) counts.
Derived from bone marrow, the EPC cells may play a role in
vessel regrowth and repair following injury.

“Examinations of the animals’ bone marrow and peripheral
blood showed that the measures of EPC cells dropped fully 40
percent among the mice on the low-carb eating plan after
only two weeks,” says Rosenzweig.

“Although the precise nature and role of these cells is
still being worked out and caution is always warranted in
extrapolating from effects in mice to a clinical situation,
these results succeeded in getting me off the low-carb

Even more important, he notes, the findings point out that
there can be a disconnect between weight loss or serum
markers and vascular health, and that vascular health can be
affected by macronutrients other than phat and cholesterol,
in this case, protein and carbohydrates.

“Understanding the mechanisms responsible for these effects,
as well as the potential restorative capacity that may
counteract vascular disease, could ultimately help guide
doctors in advising their patients,” adds Rosenzweig.

“This issue is particularly important given the growing
epidemic of obesity and its adverse consequences. For now,
it appears that a moderate and balanced diet, coupled with
regular exercise, is probably best for most people.”

Alright, I know that was a lot to take in, but here are my
takeaways from this…

1. I’ve never thought going on a low-carb eating plan for
extended periods of time is the best way to get lean AND
healthy… reasons for this are explained in
FatBurningFurnace, and this study could be another big one.

2. Low-carb eating plans can work to help phat loss, but in
my experience it’s best used infrequently and as part of a
overall balanced plan like in FatBurningFurnace.

3. This study indicated the main issue here was low-carb
eating led to reduced restorative capacity in the animals.
It is reassuring then that the type of exercise we perform
in FatBurningFurnace actually builds and strengthens your
reserve capacity in your heart and lungs.

Combined with the FBF eating principles, I feel you have
your best chance to fight heart disease in just a few
minutes a week.

I hope you found this study as interesting as I did…

If you want to read more about the study you can do so at
Science Daily here:

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151300. htm

OK, enough science for today!  Just remember as great as
getting and staying lean is, it really means nothing if the
methods to do so negatively impact your health…

Here’s to getting lean, strong and healthy for life,

About Rob Poulos

Connect with Rob on Google+


1 Comment Add yours

  1. James

    These trials are so flawed. Anyone who follows a low carb way of life knows that you don’t get close to 50% of your calories from protein. These doctors never seem to get the ratios right. You want to eat 80% fat, 15% protein, 5% carbs. Redo the study and post the results.

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