Ha Ha Ha! Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets Damage Arteries.

Oh, those silly low-carb diets. Will they ever learn! Here’s more bad news for low-carb. A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found low-carb, high-protein diets damage arties:

Diets based on eating lots of meat, fish and cheese, while restricting carbohydrates have grown in popularity in recent years.

But the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the US found such habits caused artery damage in tests on mice.

The researchers and independent experts both agreed a balanced diet was the best option…

…Lead researcher Anthony Rosenzweig said the findings were so concerning to him that he decided to come off the low-carb diet he was following.

He added: "Our research suggests that, at least in animals, these diets could be having adverse cardiovascular effects.

"It appears that a moderate and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, is probably best for most people."

And in 2007, a study found low-carb diets, like Atkins, cause long-term damage to blood vessels. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of high-protein diets, all that saturated fat and insufficient plant nutrients increases risk of heart disease and cancer:

The Atkins diet (and other diets rich in animal products and low in fruits and unrefined carbohydrates) is likely to significantly increase a person's risk of colon cancer. Scientific studies show a clear and strong relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption. What good is a diet that lowers your weight but also dramatically increases your chances of developing cancer?

A meat-based, low-fiber diet, like the one Atkins advocates, includes little or no fruit, no starchy vegetables, and no whole grains. Following Atkin's recommendations could more than double your risk of certain cancers, especially meat-sensitive cancers, such as epithelial cancers of the respiratory tract.1 For example, a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute looked at lung cancer in nonsmoking women so that smoking would not be a major variable. Researchers found that the relative risk of lung cancer was six times greater in women in the highest fifth of saturated-fat consumption than those in the lowest fifth.

I asked Dr. Fuhrman to comment on this study. He chuckled at the news, saying, “This study definitely proves once and for all that mice should not be eating the Atkins diet. They should get Jenny Craig. Furthermore, vegetables make pigs fat, so maybe we shouldn't eat them either.”

Image credit: jaxxon

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Comments (21) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Tim - August 27, 2009 8:28 AM

Carbs = energy.

No/low carbs = starvation.

Come on Atkins advocates - it's not rocket science!

Melissa Hoffman - August 27, 2009 8:31 AM

I know there's a segment of folks out there who do a LOW fat version of Atkins--still eating low-carb vegetables, but no fruits until the desired weight is reached. A friend is using a lot of whey protein prepared meals and eating steamed veggies and salads with two meals. She says she feels great, and she has lost weight. I would be curious to know more about this approach, ie the more moderated version of Atkins being promoted--eating white meat chicken, for example, instead of high saturated fat meats, cheese, dairy. I am sold on ETL, but several people whom I have encountered go the low carb/more veggies/fat-free protein route and seem to love it. A question would be: how to frame the potential harm of even low-fat, "cleaner" proteins? Ex: bone loss? kidney strain? etc...

Steve - August 27, 2009 9:35 AM

Hi Gerry

Melissa, there are now so many versions and phases of the Atkins diet, the term is now probably meaningless.

The actual diet at atkins.com is not unreasonable, including nuts and seeds and leafy greens and fruits. It would seems to be the many products out there advertised at other sites that are still stuck in the past (severe carb restriction).

Melissa, I recommend that your friend check the proper web site, that way she has the best chance of a healthy Atkins experience. Of course though I would simply recommend she surf at this site or Fuhrman's main site and go nutritarian!

Cheers, Steve

Sam - August 27, 2009 12:33 PM

Atkins = bad. Ok.

"It appears that a moderate and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, is probably best for most people." - Fail.

It's fine that researchers prove the negative/damaging effects of diets that we are not designed for but please stop there. "Moderation" is pretty meaningless and makes me cringe everything I see/hear it. Primates are simply designed for high intake of raw fruit and vegetation. Last time I checked, "most people" are primates. If you aren't getting >90% of your caloric intake from fresh, raw, high nutrient plant food, you are not optimizing your health potential. Period. Nothing moderate about that.

Matt - November 17, 2009 10:48 PM

1. These are vegetarian eating mice.
2. This diet was not high-fat(saturated), moderate-protein, and low-carb. It was a diet that is completely inadvisable--high protein, low carb, and hardly any fat, such a diet could mess up your entire body. You need the fat.

Abe - March 18, 2010 8:57 AM

Sure, Tim, carbs = energy. Of course, fat = 2x(carb energy). Fat is also critical in many other ares of the body, such as cell structure and hormone formation, while carbs also provide...?

Alejandro - April 9, 2010 9:44 PM

I am trying to understand all this. How do we then see these results in humans?

"Effects of dietary carbohydrate restriction versus low-fat diet on flow-mediated dilation."

Or this?

"Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women"

Or this?

"Low-carbohydrate diets reduce lipid accumulation and arterial inflammation in guinea pigs fed a high-cholesterol diet."

I am trying to understand these results, any light would be appreciated.

Thank you.

johnny - July 21, 2010 8:18 AM

Is this all they can come up with? Since when were mice ever a suitable model for humans? To extrapolate the results of tests on animals so far removed from ourselves is seriously bad science and should not be given even a moment of consideration.

TruthorDeath - September 6, 2010 8:36 PM

First, let's look at the title of these posts, like "Ha Ha Ha! Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets Damage Arteries." and "Ha Ha! Atkins Diet Raises Heart Risks, Duh!". One does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure that the person posting this is not addressing these important situations and topics with the right attitude. I am all for some good, hilarious humor. I love it. But Ha Ha, you have heart disease?? Seriously? You are a physician? You spend massive amounts of time compiling data on a web page which has become a source people look to for right thinking on super important topics, and THIS is what you post? Ok so anyway that's only problem numero uno, but it represents character so I figured I nip it in the bud right off the bat.

Second, the 'quotes' in red here are so laughable... that I think that is what the donkey in the picture is actually laughing about. Let's have a look-see at the first red box, shall we? Excellent.

Oh! What's this? Mice! THAT'S what the title means? Not humans??? Interesting... ok next.

What the heck is Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center? A proper introduction, or perhaps a little bit edification may be in order before I care what they say.

Third, "The researchers and independent experts both agreed a balanced diet was the best option…" Wow. That's so enlightening. Let me write that one down. Complete brilliance, but um... is this filler? Because I really can't do much with this information.

Anthony Rosenzweig was soooooooo concerned about those mice. Wow. That's just fantastic. Good for him, whoever he is.

And now folks, we come to the end of the first hilarious red box. Clearly, the information that I've already commented on has been highly valuable... but here is the BEST part... ready?

"Our research SUGGESTS that, AT LEAST IN ANIMALS, these diets COULD be having adverse cardiovascular effects.
"It APPEARS that a moderate and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, is PROBABLY best for MOST people."
Did you see it all like I did? The parts I capitalized? That's 2 sentences, containing SIX flimsy, inconclusive words. Wowsers. Have a look at the articles on WAPF, and you will not see this sort of ridiculousness. You will see fact based research, and intelligently composed articles digging into REAL details.

I could go on and on, but I will spare you. Just be careful where you get your information. WHAT A JOKE!!!

Reason - September 26, 2010 2:32 PM

Right on TruthorDeath!! I am amazed at how much this site is filled with attack articles. And then attacks on mice studies when primate "studies" are so much better because we are primates...why not study HUMANS and what we have (or have not) been eating for millennia.

Also, many anthropologists believe that significant 'jumps' in our evolutionary history (toolmaking, etc.) occurred alongside our then newfound ability to eat the FATTY, high calorie marrow of bones to which many other animals where denied.


Tracy - October 22, 2010 2:08 AM

wonders when the Weston A. Price people will just go back to their own site and realize Dr. Fuhrman does not agree with them? Come on now!

Will it happen?

ever???? Why are they always trolling?

Your raw milk and liver awaits you... just not here.

TruthorDeath - November 4, 2010 11:13 AM


Dr Fuhrman and Gerry put out completely wrong info. And constantly attack sound advice about eating the whole, nutrient dense foods that previous generations have thrived on for many years.

People come here for information on health... and I care.

Do you have a problem lining up the logic on this? If so, then it seems you may suffer from at least a moderate case of stupidity. What a shame. You might want to consider thinking through the situation a bit better before throwing out an argumentative comment so that you can feel cool on the internet.

Health - March 31, 2011 10:23 PM

I have not yet made a personal decision as to whether or not meat is "bad" or "good". However, I will say that this website is extremely sarcastic. If you believe that saturated fat is unhealthy, then site your references so that others can read them. This site seems geared more toward condemning saturated fat rather than proving anything scientifically.
Again, if you have "proof", then provide it. I would be interested in reading the study that you reference.

The article below suggests that saturated fat is not as bad as everyone seems to claim....and this is a medical web page indicating this idea....after conducting a study on real people....not mice.

"Are Saturated Fats Heart Healthy?
Study Shows Possible Benefits for Older Women at High Risk for Heart Disease"

saab - June 5, 2011 11:03 AM

I'm quite sick of all these attacks on how fruits are fattening, because it's not. Here's why:

Fruitarians, eat a 95%+ diet consisting of fruits. Some go 100% and exclude all vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and animal products. They only eat the structure of the plant surrounding it's seed.

I would also like to say, that I am not a fruitarian, and I do not advocate it. I am a vegan though.

One of the warnings against going on a fruitarian diet is EXTREME weight loss to the point of an anorexic level sometimes.

Clearly, fruits do not make people fat. Most people who eat fruits like bananas however, eat it with milk, cereal, yogurt, ice cream, or eat it on the same day or time period that they eat some other foods as well. It is the other foods that you eat that make you fat, not the bananas or other fruits. The blame falls on the fruit always.

I do not advocate this, but if you tried living on a fruitarian diet for several weeks which included bananas, you would be much lighter on the scale. I do not recommend it however, because you may end up with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Saab - June 5, 2011 11:25 AM

With a low/no-carbohydrate that includes a mostly/all-meat diet respectively, one can actually lose an incredible amount of fat due to ketogenesis. This is because meat has no carbohydrates(sugar), and therefore high consumption of it without or very little carbohydrates forces the body to use fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates, which is the preferred source of fuel. If carbohydrates were like BP, and fat was Chevron, then physiologically speaking, if BP had no more gasoline, everyone would go use Chevron for fuel instead. Once BP starts providing gasoline, then we would go for BP instead.

So there is no doubt that people adhering to such diets would lose fat, and because of it, improve their health markers like triglyceride levels, HDL levels, and LDL levels.

There is also no doubt that people adhering to such diets would also suffer diseases with their digestive systems, especially their intestines. The human body's digestive system is actually geared towards an herbivorous diet. The human body also has characteristics of an herbivore rather than that of a carnivore.

The intestines of a human are about 20 feet long, whereas the intestines of a carnivore are about 5 feet long. The carnivore as a short intestine so that it can quickly get all the decaying meat out of it's system ASAP. The long intestines of herbivores like humans are that way because herbs and fruits need to be fermented by probiotics which takes time, and the fermented products and nutrients takes time to be fully absorbed by the body.

When people eat meat, it stays inside the 20 feet long intestines, turns rotten, and stays in there for a longer time because a humans' intestine is not 5 feet long like a carnivores'. The intestines become dirty/toxic, and the end result is CANCER in which you would lose even more weight.

Atkins' low carbohydrate diets are extremely good for weight loss, and it's very good for developing problems such as cancer in the intestines.

saab - June 5, 2011 11:31 AM

Meat-eater: You're a vegan, that means you're deficient in vitamin B12! :-)

Vegan: Good news! vitamin b12 is produced by, BACTERIA. *not meat* V(^.^)V ("V" for vegan lol)

saab - July 7, 2011 6:23 AM

In nutrition, any phrase that contains "moderation" or "balanced" meal should be banned. These two words are used so often that no one really knows what it means anymore. How much is moderation, and at what point is balanced?

Ever hear a dietitian say "Junk food is okay, but remember to eat balanced meals and everything in moderation". Not very good advice is it? Dietitians, psychiatrists, and doctors are some of the people I really look down on with the exception of Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

The best diet would be large quantities of raw vegetables, large quantities of raw fruit, no meat, no processed food, no sweets, and extremely low animal products like a pint of homemade yogurt once a week just to get the vitamin B12. Fruits only raise triglycerides or make people fat if you also eat any "bad" food also.

Voluptuous Vegan - August 11, 2011 3:07 PM

I'm a vegan. My entire diet is plant-based and I eat a LOT of carbs -- not junk food carbs but whole grains, sweet potatoes, brown rice -- oh my! I eat lots and lots of brown rice. Sometimes I'll do a 3 day brown rice fast. And guess what? I am not fat, nor are my vegan friends.

I do not know when or how people got it into their heads that carbohydrates are the enemy but I never subscribed to that philosphy. In my 20s, I took up bodybuilding which required an incredible amount of protein. My body was lean and I looked healthy; however, I felt awful and couldn't wait for my cheat day. Those years are long gone. Now I focus on balance. I eat what is in season and I cook from scratch -- nothing I eat comes from a box or a can. That's how I grew up. My parents are from Italy and growing up, their garden sustained us. Everything my mother cooked was fresh. Seems to me, if everyone ate according to the season making vegetables and grains the mainstay of their diet obesity would be a non-issue.

Just my two cents.

Robert - September 6, 2011 9:41 PM


"The human body also has characteristics of an herbivore rather than that of a carnivore."

I hope you’re not saying what I think you’re saying. If this is your way of saying humans are herbivores then you are quite simply wrong! Our teeth are different, our digestive system as a whole is quite different from that of true herbivores. Everything about our physiology says "non-specific feeder".

Steve - March 26, 2013 3:56 PM

I don't put truck tires on my bike.
Truck tires are for trucks.

They share enough characteristis to draw some compairisons but just because it is useful for it's intended purpose, does not mean it is right for *my* purpose.

Pretty much Dr. Fuhrman's answer the the question as well.

The Atkins Diet should require a prescription, or the equivalent degree in nutrition, physiology, medicine...
Any diet should.
Everything else we do that is as dangerous requires the age of majority, a waver or a doctor's note to check your need and sanity before you start.

If you were an obese diabetic with high blood pressure in the 1960's Dr. Atkins had the best tires ever made up to that time for your truck...

The shame is in the 90's every X-iterian claimed it as either a silver bullet or the work of nebulous forces...even though they were the ones retro-fitting it somewhere it was never intended.

I don't support the mass produced items carrying the name any more than the mass produced items they attempt to replace - raw is the only real control, but the 'tastes great/less filling Atkins based debate was old news twenty years ago.

Steve - March 26, 2013 4:18 PM

@Robert (and long after the comment was posted)
I jokingly tell my kids we are om-nom-nom-navours.

'Opportunistic' feeders...rats, pigs, chimps, people. We are the worst example, being most truely omnivourous. The others are opportunistic vegetarians.

Humans get into trouble because where a rat may eat nothing but the locally ripe fruit, eventually it returns to a more ratty mostly veggie grain diet.
The sugared up rats could fight harder and party longer and if there was an excess of sugar it got stored as fat until they burned that in lean times.

We don't do opportunity, or seasons or local. Not only is all fruit in season all the time and available 24/7, we have distilled the tasteeee part of it so you could eat just that if you wanted to.

I don't mean to pick on carbs alone either - we focus on the 'food pyramid' often forgetting we don't need every block every time we open our mouths.

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