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Studies Show Low-Carb Raises LDL ‘Bad’ Cholesterol, High-Fat Diet Spikes Stroke Risk In Women–But Is It True?

Posted Feb 25 2010 6:50pm


Two new studies may be leaving you in disbelief about high-fat, low-carb

When I was thinking about what subjects I wanted to hit on while writing my latest book 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb , one no-brainer had to be all of the ridiculous headlines that have come out about healthy high-fat and low-carb diets under the guise of scientific research. You’ve seen what I’m talking about whenever a new study releases showing supposed damning evidence against this way of eating and that’s what our culture grabs hold of as “proof” that low-carb and high-fat diets are unhealthy. In fact, we just saw it happen just this week with two new studies that I’d like to highlight and obliterate for you.


Cardiovascular nurse and researcher Dr. Teri L. Hernandez

The first one we read about in this FOX News story was published in the March 2010 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition featuring lead researcher Dr. Teri L. Hernandez from University of Colorado at Denver. She along with a couple of notable names in the world of conventional health–American Heart Association President Dr. Robert Eckel (creator of the obnoxious Bad Fats Brothers campaign and Dr. James Hill from The National Weight Control Registry (which obviously skews towards low-calorie, low-fat diets )–wanted to do yet another comparison study of low-fat diets vs. low-carb diets. This one was designed to look at what happens to the metabolic profile while following the specified diet.

Let me say how much I appreciated the fact that the “low-carb” diet Dr. Hernandez used in this study was truly an Atkins Induction-styled high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach unlike most studies which claim to examine low-carb and then there’s dismal results . This one was indeed what is technically referred to according to what researchers define as a low-carb ketogenic diet (LCKD). WOO HOO! This diet was pitted against a calorie-restricted low-fat, high-carb (55 percent of caloric intake) diet to see what would happen not just with weight loss but key blood markers over a six-week period. So far, so good right?

Well, after comparing these two diets 32 obese study participants to see what impact they would have on cholesterol levels, the researchers zeroed in on one particular health marker as the most important of all: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Although both groups experienced similar weight loss, the fasting LDL INCREASED significantly in the low-carb group while the low-fat, high-carb group showed a decrease in LDL. This was what made the headlines.

But whoop-dee-doo! What happened to HDL cholesterol on the high-fat, low-carb diet? I have no doubt based on previous research that it increased while HDL most likely remained the same or went down on the low-fat, high-carb diet. Additionally, triglycerides most certainly had to plummet on the LCKD and they had to have gone up with all those carbohydrates consumed in the low-fat group. Why wouldn’t this information be shared? We already know that HDL and triglycerides are better markers for cardiovascular health than LDL and total cholesterol.

Plus, the missing element Dr. Hernandez does NOT talk about in this study is the LDL particle size. I discuss this in Lesson #2 of my new book because it is too important an issue to miss…and research like this totally misses the boat time and time again. When HDL is up above 50 (when you eat plenty of fat in your diet) and triglycerides are below 100 (by reducing carb consumption), then the predominance of your LDL particles will be the large, fluffy kind that are protective against penetrating the arterial wall of your arteries, becoming inflamed, and causing heart trouble. But when you consume a high-carb, low-fat diet, the LDL particles become the much more dangerous small, dense kind that you absolutely want to avoid at all costs. That’s why I so highly recommend people get an NMR LipoProfile test to know exactly what your particle number and size is.

So all this belly-aching and pontification by our media over avoiding a high-fat, low-carb diet is much ado about nothing because it is bogus. That FOX News story I quoted even made the idiotic statement that “high LDL levels are a risk factor for heart disease because they are linked to clogged arteries. Why is it that a non-medically educated layman like Jimmy Moore can understand just how insane a study like this is and yet all these so-called expert medical professionals who attached their name to this study just turned a blind eye to the elephant in the room?

You can e-mail Dr. Teri Hernandez directly at teri.hernandez@ucdenver.edu to ask her why LDL particle size was not taken into consideration in her new study. I’m curious to know what she’ll have to say about it!


UNC-Chapel Hill nutrition specialist Dr. Ka He

But Dr. Hernandez was not alone in the dissemination of bad science this week about healthy nutrition. This New York Times story reports on a new study that claims high-fat diets will raise the risk of stroke in women. The lead researcher is Dr. Ka He , assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health and he wanted to see the impact of dietary fat on stroke risk as part of the huge 87,230-member Women’s Health Initiative. He made his presentation at the annual American Stroke Association conference on February 24, 2010.

Like the American Heart Association, this group is stuck on the conventional wisdom regarding diet–low-fat, high-carb, calorie-controlled. So it’s no surprise that research like this from Dr. He would be so embraced and heavily touted by the media who once again get it “dead wrong” about a high-fat diet as I shared about in Lesson #5 of my new book. The claim is made that consuming dietary fatty foods raises the risk of stroke in women over 50 by 44 percent.

So, what are these “high-fat” foods that are the culprits?

Lemme name them one-by-one as they appear in this story: cookies, pastries,
stick margarine, fried foods, crackers, Snicker bar, Crunchy Cheetos, and Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar. These are THEIR examples of the “fatty” foods that were the culprit in increasing the risk of stroke. Does anybody else besides me notice which macronutrient every single one of those foods is predominantly made up of? Of course–CARBOHYDRATES! Sugar, flour, and just plain garbage! It ain’t the fat causing the problems, Dr. He, it’s the carbs my man. Limiting fat without taking into consideration what those carbohydrates are doing to the health of those women is not going to make the necessary improvements they need to live a healthy life.

Share your positive health experiences consuming a high-fat diet with Dr. Ka He by e-mailing him at kahe@unc.edu . I think people like him need to know that their data is based on a preconceived assumption of fact that doesn’t exist and that this kind of research is probably going to be more damaging than beneficial in the end.

Always be on the lookout for this kind of phony-baloney science that is supposed to make high-fat, low-carb living look like the enemy. More times than not, all it takes is just a little digging and you’ll find that dog doesn’t hunt. Don’t be discouraged as you are livin’ la vida low-carb because of stories like this. Yes, many people will buy into them hook, line, and sinker, but it’s up to people like you and me to keep ‘em educated with the truth and then let them decide for themselves about what to do with that. Knowledge is power!

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