Rejoice, obese people trying to slim down. You may be able to occasionally indulge in steaks and bacon and eggs cooked in butter and still not damage your arteries, according to a study's findings.
See also: Ten Tips for a Healthier Heart.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University randomly assigned 46 obese men and women age 30 to 65 and to one of two diet and exercise programs for six months. Participants in the low-carb group ate a diet consisting of no more than 30% of calories from carbs (pasta, bread and fruit), and 40% from fats (dairy, nuts and meats).
In the other group test subjects ate a low-fat diet made up of no more than 30% of calories from fat and 55% from carbs. Both groups did aerobic and resistance exercise three times a week.
In two tests (one of endothelial function, which may predict heart attack and strokes, and one of arterial stiffness) taken after the participants lost 10 pounds, neither group showed any adverse effects on vascular health. However, it took the low-fat group longer to lose ten pounds: an average 70 days, compared with an average 45 days for the high-fat group.
"Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide reassurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health," said study co-author Kerry Stewart. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute, added, "More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option."
However, Stewart cautioned making a habit of eating high-fat meals, since foods with a high fat and salt content could easily exceed what the American Heart Assn. and other organizations recommend.
The study will be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver.
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