|Here's an AP article (via USA Today) that summarizes the cholesterol research.|
At least three formal studies of the Atkins diet have been presented at medical conferences over the past year, and all have reached similar results. The latest, conducted by Dr. Eric Westman of Duke University, was presented Monday at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, long a stronghold of support for the traditional low-fat approach.
Westman, an internist at Duke's diet and fitness center, said he decided to study the Atkins approach because of concern over so many patients and friends taking it up on their own. He approached the Robert C. Atkins foundation in New York City to finance the research.
Westman studied 120 overweight volunteers, who were randomly assigned to the Atkins diet or the heart association's Step 1 diet, a widely used low-fat approach. On the Atkins diet, people limited their carbs to less than 20 grams a day, and 60% of their calories came from fat.
"It was high fat, off the scale," he said.
After six months, the people on the Atkins diet had lost an average of 31 pounds, compared with 20 pounds on the AHA diet, and more people stuck with the Atkins regimen.
Total cholesterol fell slightly in both groups. However, those on the Atkins diet had an 11% increase in HDL, the good cholesterol, and a 49% drop in triglycerides. On the AHA diet, HDL was unchanged, and triglycerides dropped 22%. High triglycerides may raise the risk of heart disease.
While the volunteers' total amounts of LDL, the bad cholesterol, did not change much on either diet, there was evidence that it had shifted to a form that may be less likely to clog the arteries.
So there's that. It's still pretty preliminary, mind.
On the whole cutting carbs business....
Here's the Atkins Center online. It's got all the official stuff about what you're actually supposed to be doing (it's the blood sugar, not the carbs per se).
And here's their take specifically on carbs.
Excerpt from one of the sub-links: . While most carbohydrates — sugar, which imparts 4 calories per gram, is the best example — are digested by your body and turned into blood sugar, other carbohydrates behave differently. Some carbs are digested by your body but not turned into glucose. And, some carbs — such as fiber — can impart as little as 0 calories per gram, are not digested at all and pass through your body as waste. In either of these last two cases there is no noted impact on blood sugar levels. However, the FDA and other health organizations have not yet focused on this important biochemical difference and treat all carbohydrates as the same.
In some ways, this seems AWFULLY convenient for a company wanting to market foods specifically made with only the *right* sort of carbohydrates, but it also makes a certain amount of sense. It's plausible.