Uh oh! "Low-carb diets linked to atherosclerosis and impaired blood vessel growth"

Low-carb diets linked to atherosclerosis and impaired blood vessel growth

Even as low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets have proven successful at helping individuals rapidly lose weight, little is known about the diets' 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 significant increase in atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries and a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. The findings also showed that the diet led to an impaired ability to form new blood vessels in tissues deprived of blood flow, as might occur during a heart attack. Described in today's 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.

“It’s very difficult to know in clinical studies how diets affect vascular health,” says senior author Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Research in BIDMC’s CardioVascular Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “We, therefore, tend to rely on easily measured serum markers [such as cholesterol], which have been surprisingly reassuring in individuals on low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets, who do typically lose weight. But our research suggests that, at least in animals, these diets could be having adverse cardiovascular effects that are not reflected in simple serum markers.”

First question: What KIND of low carb diet? If you can reduce carbs but not eat excessive amounts of bad fats or animal protein, would you still have heart problems? Obviously, a diet such as Atkins is not healthy. I would find it hard to follow a low carb diet long term, but eating a healthy diet from all food groups, yet reducing carbs, low fat, not too much protein might be doable. “Diet” should be balanced and not extreme in any one regard in order to be healthy, I think. But this study means nothing if the people involved were eating tons of meat, cheese, nuts and fats.

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

I wonder how high the protein content was of the diet the mice were fed. Mice aren’t animals who typically eat high protein, My lipid profile improved from eating low carb (30-40 per day) & moderate protein, though the study states this may not be enough to forecast future cardiovascular events. I’m also curious about the fiber content & how this effects heart health. Unless you supplement with additional fiber, low carb/high protein can lack sufficient fiber.


Study used mice as the subjects:)