(NaturalNews) The Atkins diet causes increases in several indicators of heart disease, including LDL cholesterol levels, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.
Researchers had 18 people go on the Atkins, South Beach and Ornish diets for a month each, and regularly measured their levels of blood fats, cholesterol, inflammation markers, and flexibility and dilation of blood vessels. While the Atkins diet worsened several key heart disease indicators, the other diets improved them.
"It really is the Atkins diet that is the worst," said lead researcher Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The researchers found that the Atkins diet delivers 50 percent of its calories from fat, in comparison with 30 percent from the South Beach diet and 10 percent from the Ornish diet.
Among those on the Atkins diet, LDL cholesterol levels increased by an average of 7 percent, while inflammation markers increase by between 30 and 40 percent. On the other two diets, LDL cholesterol levels went down by 7 to 10 percent, and inflammation markers either remained stable or decreased by up to 15 to 20 percent.
Prior studies on the effectiveness of the Atkins and other diets have reached widely varying conclusions. In order to get a more accurate reading, Miller and the other researchers decided to take their measurements after the participants had stopped losing weight, because the rapid weight loss at the beginning of a diet can lead to a sudden but often temporary drop in cholesterol levels.
"When you lose weight everything looks good but after a while you plateau and you hit a maintenance stage," Miller said.
"We don't recommend the Atkins diet. Why not start out with a diet that will be healthier for you in the long run after weight loss?"