Healthy living * Weight loss

Diets can help unblock arteries

Also help lower blood pressure

Low fat, low carbohydrate and Mediterranean style diets can help reverse clogged arteries, new research suggests.

"Long-term adherence to weight-loss diets is effective for reversing carotid atherosclerosis as long as we stick to one of the current options of healthy diet strategy," said Dr Iris Shai, a nutritional epidemiologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel who led the study.

The scientists investigated whether types of diet could reverse atherosclerosis or hardened arteries caused by a build up of fatty deposits or plaques within the arterial walls. Through time the build up of plaques cause the arteries to narrow increasing the risk of angina, heart attack and stroke.

In the study, 140 middle aged overweight men were put on a diet which was either low in fat, low in carbohydrate or a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil. They were then monitored for two years.

Ultrasound was used to measure arterial wall thickness at the start and end of of the study.

After two years, the scientists found the men on the diets had a significant 5% reduction in average carotid artery wall volume, and a 1.1% reduction in wall thickness.

The men also showed modest reductions in weight and blood pressure.

The study findings are promising and could be applicable to other populations, said the scientists. However, as few women took part in the study, any gender-specific effects of the diets remain unknown.

The findings are published in the journal Circulation.

This article was published on Tue 2 March 2010



Image © Liv Friis-larsen - Fotolia.com


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