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Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
Date:4/1/2009

ted fat a day while on the Atkins diet, compared to about 14 grams on South Beach and about 3 grams while on Ornish.

"We like to say saturated fat should be below 7 percent of total calories," Miller said. "So, if your caloric intake is 2,000, saturated fat should be about 14 grams [or less] daily."

The researchers also measured cholesterol levels, including total cholesterol, "good" cholesterol (HDL) and "bad" cholesterol (LDL). "On Atkins, cholesterol levels tended to go up," Miller said. "LDL increased by 8 percent [which was not enough to be statistically significant]."

On the South Beach diet, LDL decreased by about 12 percent, and on Ornish it declined by about 17 percent, the study showed.

The findings are published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. An early look at the study was first discussed at the American Heart Association's 2007 annual meeting.

Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian and director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said that although the study was small, the findings are notable.

Representatives from Atkins Nutritionals took exception with the study, however. In a statement, Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals, noted that, "given the short duration of his study, the very small sample size and the weak correlations, drawing conclusions about possible long-term health risks tied to fat consumption in the maintenance phase of any weight control program is not good science." She also questioned whether the participants were actually following a true Atkins diet.

But Diekman saw the results as reason to worry.

"The outcome does show an indication for concern about the impact of a diet like the Atkins diet that relies on a large amount of saturated fat and the effect on heart health," she said.

"More studies are needed in both healthy a
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