Low Carb Diet May Harm Heart

Low Carb Diet May Harm Heart

Reported August 25, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Going low carb to lose weight? New research shows you may be jeopardizing your heart health by trading in carbohydrates for protein.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have come across a significant link between low-carbohydrate/high protein diets and plaque buildup in the heart’s arteries, or atherosclerosis.

After twelve weeks, mice that were fed a low-carb diet (12 percent carbohydrate; 43 percent fat; 45 percent protein; and .15 percent cholesterol) gained 28 percent less weight than the other mice but exhibited 6.5 percent more atherosclerosis. The research also shows the same low-carb/high-protein diet led to an impaired ability for the body to form new healthy blood vessels in tissues that are deprived of blood flow, similar to what might occur during a heart attack.


The study also shows that some of the standard precursors of cardiovascular risk, like cholesterol, were unchanged when feeding animals the same low-carb/high-protein diet.



“We … 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,” lead author Anthony Rosenzweig, M.D., director of cardiovascular research in BIDMC’s Cardiovascular Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, was quoted as saying, “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.”

Dr. Rosenzweig and his team also found the impaired ability to form new healthy blood vessels in tissues that are deprived of blood flow is associated with a decrease in vascular progenitor cells, which may play a key role in protecting and maintaining a healthy vascular system.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 24, 2009