4 Popular Diets Heart Healthy
Whether it's Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers or Zone, it's the pounds that matter
Good Cholesterol: How Important Is It? continued...
Ornish says HDL is not really a factor because "HDL is really like a
garbage truck that goes around picking up the garbage, which is bad
cholesterol. When you don't have as much bad cholesterol -- garbage -- you
don't need as many garbage trucks." He adds, "raising HDL is easy: eat
a stick of butter. That will drive up your HDL, but it's not good for
Dansinger says HDL is a little more complicated. For example, "exercise
increases HDL and we do think that low HDL is a risk factor for heart
disease," he says.
"The good news about this study is that we have demonstrated that all
these diets work. That means that physicians can work with patients to select
the diet that is best suited to the patient. For example, if you have a patient
who likes meat, it is unlikely that he or she will comply with the Ornish
diet," says Dansinger.
"In the short run, I think weight loss trumps everything. If you lose
weight, it doesn't matter how you lose it. But in the long run we don't know
the effect of the macronutrients [carbohydrates, fats, and proteins] that you
are eating," says Robert H. Eckel, MD, chair of the American Heart
Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism Council and
professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Eckel was not involved in the study.