January 20, 2003
Lose weight. Eat right. Get
healthy. But HOW? I'm sure that you don't have time to read about
all of the different ideas that people have about what constitutes
a healthy diet. There are not enough hours in the day. So, what do
you do if you really want to improve your diet and your health? Good
"People on the low-carbohydrate
regimen dropped pounds and improved cholesterol levels, fueling the
debate over the long-term safety of this weight-loss approach....The
researchers compared the low-carbohydrate diet popularized by cardiologist
Robert Atkins, MD, with a low-fat diet, and found that subjects on
the Atkins diet lost more weight and realized greater improvements
in their cholesterol levels than did subjects on a low-fat diet. Those
findings, presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Assn.,
left many dieters puzzled and some physicians crying foul. Despite
his findings, Dr. Westman is still counseling patients that a low-fat
diet paired with a program of exercise is the best plan for sensible
weight loss and heart health...."
Those findings also left
the American Heart Association rushing to clarify...
"Chicago, Nov. 19 --
Media reports about a small study funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation
may have created the erroneous impression that the American Heart
Association has revised its dietary guidelines. This is not the case.
This study was released as one of over 3,600 abstracts presented at
the American Heart Associations annual Scientific Sessions,
a forum for the presentation of research pertaining to heart disease
and stroke for scientists and physicians. These scientific abstracts
do not represent official positions or statements of the American
Heart Association. Here are the American Heart Associations
concerns with the study:..."
While some of the statistics
below encourage Atkins' supporters, they concern doctors at the American
Heart Association (for more information about problems the American
Heart Association had with the study and it's
results, please see the americanheart.org link above).
"For his randomized,
controlled study, Dr. Westman enrolled 120 people and placed half
on a low-calorie, low-fat diet. The other half followed the low-carbohydrate,
high-protein diet developed by Dr. Atkins decades ago. The research,
which has been submitted for publication, was funded by an unrestricted
grant from the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York
City. Food logs kept by participants showed their fat intake on the
Atkins diet was about 60% of the calories they consumed. This compares
to 30% on low-fat diets. The Atkins group was also provided with several
dietary supplements, including fish oil."
Think it really isn't all
that confusing? Unlike many reports would have you believe, even Dr.
Atkins is not telling you to eat all the fat you want...
fats, which your body cannot digest, are a serious risk to heart health.
Many Americans are still unaware that the most grossly harmful heart-health
trend of the last century was the gradual replacement of healthy natural
fats and protein foods with foods such as margarine. They are constructed
with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, which both contain
fats never found in nature.... For many people, the real shocker in
this study was the statistic that women who ate the equivalent of
four or more teaspoons of margarine per day had a 66 percent greater
risk of heart disease than women who ate little or no margarine. But
when it comes to butter, this vast study found no association between
its consumption (in any amount) and the probability of contracting
heart disease.... In addition to boycotting junk foods, you should
avoid cooking with margarine or vegetable shortening (that white,
creamy stuff that comes in a can). Butter, olive oil and lard worked
very well for our heart-healthy ancestors."
Questions of the Week:
Is all the information we receive too much information? Does hearing
so many different things so often make all if it less meaningful?
How can we know for ourselves what we should be eating? Who should
we listen to, and why should more or less weight be given to the statements
of one doctor over another? Who do you believe? Are you even listening
anymore? Should you be?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum