This may not be revolutionary news to those of you who follow Atkins or have read many of my previous blogs, but according to a new editorial in the journal Open Heart, written by Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a leading U.S. cardiovascular research scientist, low-carb diets beat low-fat diets for weight loss, heart disease and longevity. As you may know, I have discussed several studies that show that a low-carb diet is better for weight loss and lowering heart disease risk than a low-fat diet, while larger observational studies have not found any proof that low-fat diets reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
According to DiNicolantonio, saturated fats were vilified in the past because of the belief that they increase total cholesterol (a flawed theory, also according to DiNicolantonio), and therefore must also increase heart disease risk. And since fat contains more calories, it was thought that by reducing the intake, it would naturally curb obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. These theories, based on flawed and incomplete data from the 1950s, led to the current dietary advice to replace saturated fats with carbohydrates or omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Research now shows that eating refined carbohydrates is a dietary factor behind the surge in obesity and diabetes in the United States. And replacing saturated fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated fats—without a corresponding increase in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats—may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
DiNicolantonio says that a public health campaign is needed to educate the public on the dangers of a diet high in refined carbs and sugar, and that processed foods should be avoided at all costs.
Sound familiar? If you’re doing Atkins, you’re already doing exactly what DiNicolantonio suggests by following a plan that incorporates a balance of healthy fats (including saturated fats), fresh vegetables, whole grains (eventually) and protein and limits refined carbs, sugar and processed foods.