Atkins Heart Health Fact #3: Low-Carb beats low-fat when it comes to cutting your risk of metabolic syndrome

In four studies, authors specifically recommend that low-carb diets may help treat metabolic syndrome (risk factors associated with heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes) even better than low-fat diets. Here are the facts:

In a study of 122 patients in an outpatient weight and metabolism management program published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, patients lost weight on both low-carb and low-fat/low-calorie diets, but the low-carb patients also had a more favorable effect on triglycerides and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

In another study published in the journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, a retrospective chart review of patients on a low-carb diet (they were eating less than 20 grams of carbs a day) showed that the diet increased their good (HDL) cholesterol and lowered their bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

In a 12-week study published in the journal of Lipids, 40 people with atherogenic dyslipidemia—an indicator of metabolic syndrome including high LDL levels, low HDL levels and elevated triglycerides—were put on either a low-carb/low-calorie diet or a low-fat/low-calorie diet (each diet was approximately 1,500 calories a day). Despite the fact that the low-carb group was eating three times as many saturated fats as the low-fat group, the low-carb group had lower levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. The study authors conclude that low-carb diets help regulate insulin better, as well as improve many risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.

In an six-month study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 132 obese subjects with either metabolic syndrome or diabetes were randomly assigned to a low-carb diet or a low-fat/low-calorie diet. The low-carb group lost the most weight, with improvement in insulin sensitivity and trigylceride levels.

Learn more about these studies here:

Vernon 2004
Hickey 2003
Volek 2009
Samaha 2003

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Heart Health Fact #1
Heart Health Fact #2