It seems the controversy continues. Those who advocate for low-fat diets for heart health tell us a low-carb, high fat diet is detrimental to heart health. On the surface, it makes sense that this would be true. But is it?
A recently published clinical trial conducted by a doctor and researcher well versed in heart and metabolic health came to some extremely interesting and surprising conclusions. The way this trial was conducted was that the participants were split into one of 3 groups. They followed the diets assigned to them for 20 weeks. Each of the 3 diets contained 20% protein but differing amounts of carbs and fat.
Study participants received fully prepared, customized meals that they could either eat in the cafeteria or take to go. So there was no guessing as to whether they actually consumed the assigned amounts of macronutrients.
Here is how the diets broke down:
Low-carb: 20% carbohydrate, 21% fat
Moderate-carb: 40% carbohydrate, 14% fat
High-carb: 60% carbohydrate, 7% fat
At the end of the 20 weeks, the stunning results revealed:
“A low-carbohydrate diet, high in saturated fat, improved insulin-resistant dyslipoproteinemia and lipoprotein(a), without adverse effect on LDL cholesterol. Carbohydrate restriction might lower CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk independently of body weight, a possibility that warrants study in major multi-centered trials powered on hard outcomes.”
So, in plain English, what the researchers found was that the people eating the low-carb, high fat diet had better improvements in triglycerides, adiponectin (a fat-derived hormone that appears to play a crucial role in protecting against insulin resistance/diabetes and atherosclerosis), blood pressure and lipoprotein(a) than those on the moderate or high carb diets. Lipoprotein(a) is a type of protein that transports cholesterol in the blood and can cause LDL cholesterol to form plaques on blood vessel walls, leading to the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels and hardening of arteries. The high saturated fat did not have any negative impact on cholesterol or cardiovascular markers.
That goes against what we have been told for years. In my opinion, it always comes down to the quality of the food and where that fat comes from. Saturated fat is not the dangerous substance we’ve long been told it is. My personal feeling is that it depends on the source of that fat and how your unique metabolic makeup responds to saturated fat.
How do you feel about considering a low-carb, high saturated fat diet?