Is Healthy Heart Possible On the Atkins Diet?

The American Heart Association has added the Atkins diet to a list of other diets that can increase risks for heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels.  The basic idea is that people on the Atkins diet, free from caloric restrictions, eat elevated levels of red meats and high-fat dairy products.  Both of these food groups are proven causes of high cholesterol and can increase chances for heart diseaseâ??according to the American Heart Association.  So, the question becomes:  Is it even possible to have a healthy heart while on the Atkins diet?

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First of all, while Dr. Atkins did say that red meat was ok on his dietâ??he certainly did not go around saying that people could gorge themselves to death on it either.  This is nothing short of ludicrous and a distortion of the low-carb message.  In fact, Dr. Atkins also happened to mention that people should also get protein from chicken, fishâ??heck, even tofu once in awhile!  People who misinterpret the Atkins diet believe they can eat all red meat all the timeâ??this just doesnâ??t even make sense nor is it implied by Dr. Atkins.

Secondly, the Induction phase of the Atkins diet lasts two weeks and you are not allowed dairy products during this periodâ??except cheese, butter, and cream.  Again, unless you are literally ingesting insane amounts of these products, there should be no mass fat influxâ??especially since you cut back on the other dairy products like milk and yogurt.  Now as far as the increased cholesterol levels due to the Atkins dietâ??this is simply not true.

The Atkins diet actually lowers bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol in your body.  While the long term effects upon cholesterol due to the Atkins diet are not yet known (the diet has not been around long enough to study long-term consequences to cholesterol levelsâ??but studies are already under way), the fact remains that cholesterol levels are lowered by the Atkins diet when followed properly.  So, how is not possible to have a healthy heart on the Atkins diet?

Actually, a person can have a healthy heart while keeping carb intake low by making sure to add back healthy carbohydrates when the Induction period is over.  While processed carbohydrates like pastas and breads should only be consumed sparingly (and definitely counted as a â??deviationâ?), other carbs have vital nutrients for your body, such as:  green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and some fruits.  All of these products have three things in common:  they have carbs, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. 

Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals (toxins produced during the metabolism of Oxygen) which are known to be factors in heart disease and other medical problems.  Dietary fiber helps keep your digestive tract clean and free from constipation.  When you have constipation, harmful bacteria are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and can cause infections like infective endocarditis.  Foods that have antioxidants and dietary fiber are vital to a healthy heartâ??even though they also have carbs!

Therefore, so long as you add back in foods with beneficial carbohydrates rather than bringing back the pastas and breads, then you will still be burning calories while also maintaining a healthy heartâ??yes, on the Atkins diet!

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