Recently ignored by the media were findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE) from a study investigating the impact of a diet high in saturated fat on blood pressure. Published in the March/April issue of Endocrine Practice (abstract 201) A High Fat Diet in Obese Patients Induces Weight Loss, Leads to Improved Insulin Resistance, and Lowers Systolic Blood Pressure Despite Marked Increase in Dietary Sodium researchers concluded that their results were consistent with previous studies.
The study included 23 obese, hypertensive patients with documented atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The very type of patient who is counseled to eat a low-fat, low sodium diet to reduce their risks. Instead of the traditional dietary recommendation, researchers had these subjects consume a diet high in saturated fat (50% of their total calories) while restricting starches. Yes, a low-carb diet.
Not surprisingly, the group experienced weight loss even while eating whatever they wanted from the allowed foods (ad libitum consumption). In addition, they also lowered their blood pressure (the primary focus of the study) and improved insulin sensitivity. Oh, and did I mention they did this while consuming more sodium too?
Dr. James Hays and colleagues previously reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings that the patients achieved significant improvements in a number of cardiovascular risk factors, including reductions in total triglycerides, triglycerides, very low density lipoprotein (vLDL), and vLDL particle size. Additionally, while LDL and HDL concentrations were unchanged, there were significant increases in HDL and LDL particle size.
So, not only did they improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and lose weight, they also reduced their risks because their cholesterol levels improved. Add to that those participating either reduced or eliminated their medications during the trial period.
These findings, along with dozens of other studies, continue to support the use of carbohydrate restriction as a dietary intervention for both weight loss and health risk reduction. Taken as a whole body of evidence, the data suggests we must focus our attention not on dietary sodium and fat but on fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity as part of the process to determine the best dietary intervention to reduce health risks and weight.
Remember next time you hear, see or read how deadly saturated fats are that studies continue to show the exact opposite!