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science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman


It was reported March 6, 2023, by Medical that, “The ketogenic or ‘keto diet’, which involves consuming very low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of fats, has been gaining popularity. However, a new study presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Sessions together with the World Congress of Cardiology suggests that a ‘keto like’ diet may be associated with higher blood levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and a twofold heightened risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain (angina), blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes. The study is titled “Association of Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat (Ketogenic) Diet With Plasma Lipid Levels and Cardiovascular Risk In A Population-Based Cohort.”

The lead author of the study, Lulia Latan MD, Ph.D. said, “Our study found that regular consumption of a self-reported diet low in carbohydrate and high in fat was associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol or ‘bad’ cholesterol – and a higher risk of heart disease.” Dr. Latan also said, “To our knowledge, our study is one of the first to examine the association between this type of dietary pattern and cardiovascular outcomes.”

Past research studies have reported that low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diets rich in saturated fats can elevate levels of LDL cholesterol. “While elevated LDL cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease (caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol in the coronary arteries), the effects of LCHF diet on risk for heart disease and stroke have not been well studied,” Latan said.

Dr. Latan further said, “Among the participants on the LCHF diet, we found that those with the highest levels of LDL cholesterol were at the highest risk for a cardiovascular event.”

“Our findings suggest that people who are considering going on an LCHF diet should be aware that doing so could lead to an increase in their levels of LDL cholesterol.”

A new breakthrough study published in the prestigious journal Lancet on March 3rd, 2023 stated that “inflammation and hyper lipidemia jointly contributed to atherothrombotic disease.” The findings were based on the analysis of three randomized trials involving 33,245 patients.

The Lancet study “aimed to evaluate the relative importance of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC) as determinants of risk for major adverse cardiovascular events, cardiovascular death and all cause death among patients receiving statins.”

The important findings of the study are “Among patients receiving contemporary statins, inflammation assessed by high-sensitivity CRP was a stronger predictor for risk of future cardiovascular events and death than cholesterol assessed by LDLC. These data have implications for the selection of adjunctive treatments beyond statin therapy and suggests that combined use of aggressive lipid-lowering and inflammation-inhibiting therapies may be needed to further reduce atherosclerotic risk.”

I have been an advocate of the heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet for over 25 years! A healthy diet and lifestyle changes, such as following the Mediterranean Diet along with exercise, has been shown in the scientific research to safely prevent and lower the risk of gaining weight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Many antioxidant foods rich in polyphenols are abundant in the Mediterranean diet such as extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, nuts, red wine, tea, and coffee.

In a study of more 90,000 people who were followed for 28 years, published on Monday, January 10th in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Harvard researchers reported that “adding less than a tablespoon of olive oil to their diet lowers a person’s risk for death from heart or lung disease, as well as brain disorders and cancer.” (UPI News)

United Press International (UPI News) reported, “Compared to participants who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those who added one-half tablespoon or more to their diet daily had a 19% lower risk for death from heart disease, the data showed.”

“This level of olive oil consumption was also associated with a 29% lower risk for death from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to the researchers.”

“In addition, substituting 10 grams, or just under one tablespoon per day of olive for the same amount of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy lowered a person’s risk for early death from all causes by up to 34%,” they said.

The Mediterranean diet is high in fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to antioxidant-rich vegetables, red wine and berries rich in polyphenols, beans, lentils, nuts, legumes and extra-virgin-olive oil that are rich in healthy monounsaturated polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. A study by Harvard researchers and reported by the American Heart Association (March 5, 2020) and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (March 2020) found that as little as half a tablespoon of olive oil a day was linked to significant decrease in cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon have potent anti-inflammatory properties and reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease.

Research has shown that inflammation is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health (Nutrients, August 9, 2020). Sixteen years ago, the ATTICA Study (J Am Coll Cardiol, July 2004) found that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 20% lower C-reactive protein (CRP) and 17% lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). CRP and IL-6 are elevated in systemic inflammation in the body. This was an observational study and demonstrated an association but not proof of cause and effect like a randomized, double-blind clinical trial; also, a similar study a year later called the Nurses’ Cohort in the USA (Am J Clin Nut, July 2005) was associated to a 24% lower C-reactive protein and 16% lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). These very well-conducted observational studies were later confirmed by a randomized clinical trial (PREDIMED pilot study). The Mediterranean diet, when supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil for three months and followed by adults, reduced C-reactive protein. The Mediterranean diet, as I mentioned, was supplemented with extra-virgin oil containing monounsaturated fats and polyphenols and lowered low-grade inflammation implicated in the mechanism leading to atherosclerotic disease (Nutr Metab, September 2014). The PREDIMED trial later involving 1,139 high-risk cardiovascular adults further confirmed a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory of the Mediterranean diet rich in polyphenols based on measuring inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 (Br J Clin Pharmaca, January 2017). A later study (CANTOS trial) found that a monoclonal antibody that reduces C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, and inflammation, further confirmed the inflammatory hypothesis in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease without lowering blood lipids (N Engel J Med, Jan 1999, Endocrinol Diabet Nutr, Nov 2017). The Mediterranean diet containing extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, and red wine is rich in polyphenols with potent anti-inflammatory properties.

A breakthrough, long-term diet study was published in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation on measuring body fat! This diet study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology for the first time, measuring changes in body and organ fat during 18 months on a Mediterranean/low-carb diet, with and without moderate physical exercise. MRI is a diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of organs and internal body tissues using a magnetic field and radio waves. This is the best approach to date for measuring body fat, compared to weighing people as a result of diet and exercise. The scale, skinfold calipers or underwater weighing are not giving you the whole picture!

The research was conducted between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Harvard University. The research group was led by Drs. Iris Shai, Yftach Gepner, Ilan Shelaf and Dan Schwarzfuchs from Ben-Gurion University. Dr. Meir Stampfer was also a lead author for the study and is from the prestigious Harvard University. Dr. Stampfer is a well-known authority on nutrition and obesity. The study analyzed the implementation of positive dietary changes and how this could help in reducing body fat, particularly visceral (abdominal) body fat.

The Mediterranean low-carb diet was significantly superior to low-fat diet in decreasing fat storage, including visceral (deep abdominal) liver and heart fat. High visceral fat has been shown to increase metabolic syndrome, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing deep subcutaneous visceral fat, as well as haptic (liver) fat, was associated with improved insulin sensitivity and improved lipid profile.

The low-carb Mediterranean diet was more effective than a low-fat diet in eliminating fat storage. Previous studies have shown that a low-carb Mediterranean diet may be an effective alternative to low-fat diets. It has a more favorable effect on lipids (with low-carb diet) and glycemic control (with Mediterranean diet).

In a groundbreaking, two-year dietary intervention study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the Mediterranean and low-carb diet was an effective alternative to weight loss. It appears to be just as safe, metabolically healthier and more effective compared to a low-fat diet. Consumption of monounsaturated fats (extra-virgin olive oil and nuts) is thought to improve insulin sensitivity, which may explain the favorable effect on blood glucose and insulin levels. Research has shown that nut consumption can enhance weight loss and weight gain (N Engl J Med, 2008).

People who strictly follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of the proportion of weight to height and waist circumference – according to a large population study led by Simona Bertoli from the Nutritional Research Center in Milan, Italy. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish, seafood, antioxidant-rich vegetables, red wine and berries rich in polyphenols, beans, lentils, nuts, legumes and extra-virgin-olive oil (EVOO) that are rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil contains a polyphenol called oleuropein and can increase brown fat thermogenesis.

Brown fat is a special kind of fat cell that generates heat and helps regulate body weight and energy expenditure. The body has two forms of fat – white fat and brown fat. Brown fat burns calories. The more brown fat you have, the more calories you burn. The capability of harnessing one’s one brown fat for fat burning is revolutionary! The ability to get lean by producing extra brown fat and enhancing and activating existing brown fat represents a promising way to burn fat. Several landmark discoveries and approaches to this are being explored at major research centers and universities worldwide, with great excitement. Brown fat research is a hot topic today!

The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution by Michael Rudolph, Ph.D. provides a calorie-controlled low-carb Mediterranean diet, 30-day meal plan and exercise program. It says that you should limit yourself to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, or less. Processed food and sugar is off the table! The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution stresses foods high in monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also recommends thermogenic brown fat-activating herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food such as garlic, onion, mustard and chili pepper (capsaicin) to name a few. The American Heart Association released a press release on November 9, 2020, which said: “Individuals who consume chili pepper may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting was a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.” The meeting was held virtually on November 13, 2020.

Monounsaturated fats are more thermogenic than saturated fats found in high-fat dairy and red meat. Because of ease of compliance, The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution Mediterranean Diet makes it easy to follow even when dining out. One or two glasses of polyphenol-rich red wine (not white wine, or any other alcoholic beverages) per day can have positive health benefits on the Mediterranean diet. Studies show that olive oil and certain spices (such as capsaicin found in chili peppers) can enhance brown fat and increase thermogenesis. A number of studies have shown that healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and fish, found predominantly in Italian, Greek and Turkish cuisine, have health benefits in the prevention of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Fish oil and omega-3 fats can decrease bodyweight gain and fat accumulation by increasing thermogenesis and energy expenditure. (Clinical Nutrition, 2009; Metabolism - Clinical and Experimental, 2008; International Journal of Obesity, 2002; Nutrition Journal, 2015).

For more authoritative information, see The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution, by Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D., including the foreword by Daniel L. Friedman, MD and Eugene B. Friedman, MD. You can click the link to order on Amazon here. The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution is a groundbreaking scientific plan based on research involving brown fat (BAT). The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution offers its readers a brown fat, thermogenic and brown-fat-activating-diet, nutrition, supplement(s) and exercise program. You can also get a free PDF version here.


©Published by Advanced Research Media, Inc. 2022

©Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.



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