While losing weight is good for the heart, other aspects of the Atkins Diet can translate into habits that doctors say put people at greater risk for heart attacks. However, Atkins Diet followers do not need to abandon low-carb eating just yet. Researchers say the heart problems appear to be less about the diet, and more about the choices of the dieter.
Millions of people have turned to the Atkins Diet in recent years as an effective weight loss tool. The diet advocates controlling the intake of carbohydrates in order to burn fat and lose weight. Atkins International says the diet
works because, "When you eat more carbs than your body needs, it stores them as fat. Atkins is an effective diet that transforms your metabolism from one that stores fat into one that burns fat." The diet also promises to normalize blood sugar and insulin levels on the way to fat.
Doctors universally agree that burning fat and losing weight are both good for the heart. However, The Atkins Diet also claims that exercise is not necessary for weight loss, and actually adds a lot of fats to a person's diet. These habits and food selections are generally contradictory to advice doctors have traditionally given to people trying to prevent the cardiovascular disease that can lead to heart attacks.
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As a growing body of research takes a closer look at issues surrounding low-carb diets and health factors related to cardiovascular disease, it has become clear that some users of the Atkins Diet are putting themselves in heart peril. According to one article published in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine
, "Low carbohydrate-high protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease."
But the diet itself does not have to do the heart harm and can actually be strategic for heart health. The key is food choice. Choose vegetable proteins and fats, not animal-based proteins and fats.
The "Eco Atkins" diet was developed by doctors to show that when a high-protein diet includes food sources that include "good fats," heart risk is reduced. Their version of the diet follows Atkins ratios for carbs and protein, but emphasizes protein sources that come from vegetable sources.
WebMD contributor Dr. Kathleen Zelman describes the diet
, saying, "Instead of the steaks and bacon found in the original Atkins diet, dieters in the study were given prepared foods that consisted mostly of healthy fats, soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds, no-starch gluten products, fruits, and vegetables."
Good fats that can help Atkins Diet adherents from increasing their risk of heart attacks include those from plant-based oils such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
The American Heart Association says, "Nearly 70 percent
of American adults are either overweight or obese." Weight management can reduce health problems including heart disease that can lead to a heart attack.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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