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Low-Carb, High-Fat Diets May Not Pose Risk to Arteries
Date:6/2/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that low-carbohydrate diets, with regular exercise as part of the plan, don't appear to harm the arteries, as some experts have feared.

"It's pretty clear low-carb is effective for weight loss," said study author Kerry J. Stewart, director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute. "The concern has been that because you are eating more fat this is going to put stress on your blood vessels."

So, Stewart and his team evaluated the short-term effects of a low-carb, higher-fat diet after a single meal. The researchers also compared a low-carb diet with a low-fat diet in dieters. In each case, they found no ill effects on blood vessel health.

Stewart is due to present his findings Friday at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Denver.

However, one nutrition expert said longer-term research is needed before concluding that high fat intake doesn't hurt blood vessel health.

For the first study, Stewart's team looked at the effects of eating an extremely high-fat McDonald's breakfast. The breakfast had more than 900 calories and 50 grams of fat. "That's half of what you should eat in a whole day," Stewart said.

The researchers then evaluated a marker of arterial stiffness and another measure of blood vessel health, known as endothelial function. "Even after eating this one meal, we didn't find any vascular changes from before to after," he said.

The arterial stiffness, in fact, improved, he noted, although he is not sure why.

Neither study had industry funding; both were financed by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

For the diet study, Stewart assigned 55 men and women who were overweight or obese to the low-carb diet or a low-fat diet. They also had abdominal obesity
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