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'Eco-Atkins' Diet Sheds More Than Pounds
Date:6/8/2009

Study found subbing plant-based proteins for animal ones also lowered cholesterol

MONDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- A modified Atkins diet, one that substitutes plant-based proteins for animal-based ones, helps people lose weight and lowers their cholesterol, new research shows.

"In just two weeks on the so-called 'Eco-Atkins' diet, everything starts to look much better metabolically ... I think this becomes an alternative for the heart disease reduction diet, which is obviously appropriate for diabetes," said Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, lead author of a study on the new diet appearing in the June 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Dr. Atkins challenged nutritional wisdom by suggesting high-fat, high-protein diets would be better than more frugal low-saturated-fat and low-cholesterol diets on which we've normally based therapeutic models for the treatment of cardiovascular disease," explained Jenkins, who is Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "This seemed like a terrible thing to do, but he did it and showed that, providing they got the weight loss, all seemed to be well. But one thing we didn't notice or didn't pay much attention to was the fact that cholesterol levels didn't actually go down, even though there was spectacular weight loss on the diet."

Jenkins and his team sought to maintain the basic high-protein, low-carb ratio of the Atkins diet, but in a way that might promote lowering of cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease.

Forty-four men and women who were overweight and had high cholesterol were assigned to a four-week regimen of either a low-fat, low-carb, high-vegetable, plant-based protein diet including vegetable oil, gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables and cereals, or a high-carb, lacto-ovo (dairy and eggs only) vegetarian diet.

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