Going "Paleo" may improve heart health, a preliminary study suggests.
This diet, which is based on eating foods thought to be available to our Prehistoric ancestors, is very popular among health and fitness enthusiasts, but the effect it has on cardiac health has not been well studied, researchers say.
So a group of investigators from the University of Houston in Texas asked eight healthy people who normally consumed a traditional Western diet high in processed foods to switch to the Paleo diet -- which consists of minimally processed foods -- for eight weeks. They also could eat as much food as they wanted while following it, they were told.
The finding showed that their interlukin-10 (IL-10) dropped by 35 percent. A low value in this molecule, which is secreted by the immune cells, can predict increased heart attack risk in people who also have high levels of inflammation. Scientist think that high IL-10 levels may counteract inflammation, providing a protective effect for blood vessels.
Also, even though the study was not designed to promote weight loss, the participants did drop some pounds during the eight-week trial. Compared with what they regularly ate before the study, participants reported consuming around 22 percent fewer calories and 44 percent fewer grams of carbohydrates on the Paleo diet, the study shows.
The researchers plan conduct a study with a greater number of people who follow the diet for a longer period of time to analyze how it affects various risk factors for cardiovascular and coronary artery disease, cellular immune function and metabolic health.
The researchers, who conducted the study with their colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, plan to present their findings at the American Physiological Society's Inflammation, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease conference.
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