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Comparing the Eco-Atkins low-carb vegan to Esselstyn's low-fat diets?

A low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk and weight, says a new study, "Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomized controlled trial," published online February 5, 2014 in the British Medical Journal Open. The study put participants on a diet of a balance of 26 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, 31 per cent from proteins and 43 per cent from fat – coming primarily vegetable oils.

Comparing the Eco-Atkins low-carb vegan to Esselstyn's low-fat diets?
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

The diet's carbohydrate sources included high-fiber foods such as oats and barley and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Proteins came from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Predominant fat sources for the Eco-Atkins diet were nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado. So if you're on a gluten-free diet, you have to separate this diet that included proteins from gluten with other types of vegan diets that are gluten-free to see what diet is balanced and the best-fit for your own body as an individual.

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital have shown for the first time that, in addition to weight loss, a specific low-carbohydrate diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease by 10 per cent over 10 years. The diet, often called The 'Eco Atkins' Diet is a low-carbohydrate vegan diet. Many low-carbohydrate diets have been proven to improve weight loss but most emphasize eating animal proteins and fats, which may raise cholesterol. Diets that are high in vegetable proteins and oils may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering "bad cholesterol."

Designing a low-carb vegan diet

"We killed two birds with one stone – or, rather, with one diet," explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Center of St. Michael's Hospital and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."

The findings, which were published in British Medical Journal Open, compared the Eco Atkins diet to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. The Eco-Atkins diet reduced cholesterol by 10 per cent while also helping participants lose an average of four more pounds than the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet over six months.

"We could expect similar results in the real world because study participants selected their own diets and were able to adjust to their needs and preferences," said Dr. Jenkins, according to the May 22, 2014 news release, "Low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk and weight." Jenkins is a vegan.

Participants were given menu plans that outlined food items and amounts

Rather than requiring fixed meals, the menus served as a reference guide and participants were given a list of suitable food alternatives. With an exchange list of interchangeable food items, participants were better able to adapt the diet to their personal tastes – which helped to encourage adherence to the diet.

Twenty-three obese men and women completed the six-month diet. Participants were encouraged to eat only 60 per cent of their estimated caloric requirements – the amount of calories that should be consumed daily to maintain their current weight. Eco-Atkins participants aimed for a balance of 26 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, 31 per cent from proteins and 43 per cent from fat – coming primarily vegetable oils.

Carbohydrate sources included high-fiber foods such as oats and barley and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Proteins came from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Predominant fat sources for the Eco-Atkins diet were nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado.

The Web MD's article on The 'Eco Atkins' Diet explains that instead of the steaks and bacon found in the original Atkins diet, dieters in the study were given prepared foods that consisted mostly of healthy fats, soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds, no-starch gluten products, fruits, and vegetables. Some 31% of the calories in the diet came from plant proteins, 43% from vegetable oils, and 26% from carbs.

Protein came primarily from gluten, soy beverages; tofu; soy burgers; veggie products such as bacon, breakfast links, and deli slices; nuts; vegetables; and cereals. The diet emphasized viscous vegetables like okra and eggplant, along with other low-starch vegetables. The diet included "good fats" from canola oil, olive oil, avocado, and nuts. The dieters got carbs from fruits, vegetables, and cereals, with a limited amount of oats and barley. But they ate no starchy foods like enriched white bread, rice, potatoes, or baked goods.

Noteworthy is the fact that the The 'Eco Atkins' Diet which is high in vegan fats is opposite when it comes to how much fats/oils to consume, to the Esselsteyn diet (to help reverse hardening of the arteries filled with soft plaque), a diet which is low in fats, encourages a few spoons of ground flaxseeds and emphasizes no oils, for those with heart disease and clogged arteries throughout their body. See, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease."

After 5 years on Dr. Esselstyn’s plant-based diet, the average total cholesterol levels of his research group dropped from 246 milligrams per deciliter to 137 mg/dL (Above 240 mg/dL is considered “high risk,” below 150 mg/dL is the total cholesterol level seen in cultures where heart disease is essentially nonexistent.) This is the most profound drop in cholesterol ever documented in the medical literature in a study of this type, according to the Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. website.

There's an anti-inflammatory response to the gluten-free vegan diet for some people

In another study by different researchers, findings revealed how a gluten-free vegan diet in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients induces changes that are potentially artery-protective (atheroprotective) and anti-inflammatory, including decreased LDL and oxLDL levels and raised anti-PC IgM and IgA levels, say researchers. For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who eat a gluten-free vegan diet could be better protected against heart attacks and stroke.

RA is a major risk factor for these cardiovascular diseases, but a gluten-free vegan diet was shown to lower cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and oxidizedLDL (OxLDL), as well as raising the levels of natural antibodies against the damaging compounds in the body that cause symptoms of the chronic inflammatory disease rheumatoid arthritis, such as phosphorylcholine. These findings, "Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis- a randomized study," were reported online March 17, 2008 in the open access journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.

The idea that we can influence our health by changing our eating habits has become a fashionable idea among lifestyle and consumer magazines. There is evidence that dietary changes can bring about health benefits but specific results are not widespread. Johan Frostegard of the Rheumatology Unit at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and colleagues divided sixty-six RA patients randomly into two groups. They randomly assigned 38 of the volunteers to eat a gluten-free vegan diet, and the other 28 a well-balanced but non-vegan diet for one year. They analyzed the levels of fatty, lipid molecules in blood samples using routine analytical methods at regular periods. They also measured oxLDL and anti-phosphorylcholine (antiPC) factor at the beginning of the experiment, at 3 months and again at 12 months.

The Eco Atkins diet came about after researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto decided to see whether a high-protein vegetarian diet could promote weight loss along with a reduction in "bad" cholesterol. They devised the Eco Atkins diet, keeping the same ratio of protein and carbs as the original Atkins diet but replacing the high-fat animal protein with vegetable protein (primarily from soy and gluten).

You also may wish to check out a study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, where the researchers put 47 overweight men and women on either the Eco-Atkins diet or a lacto-ovo (including dairy and eggs) vegetarian diet with more carbs and less fat. Both diets were low in calories, providing 60% of the study participants' calorie requirements. See, "Eco-Atkins Diet."

The researchers found that the gluten-free vegan diet not only reduced LDL and oxLDL levels and raised antiPC antibodies but lowered the body-mass index (BMI) of the volunteers in that group.

Levels of other fatty molecules, including triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) stayed the same. In contrast, none of the indicators differed significantly for the control groups on the conventional healthy diet. AntiPC antibodies are studied within CVDIMMUNE, an European consortium led by Dr Frostegard with the hypothesis that such antibodies can protect against cardiovascular disease and can be used as diagnostic and therapeutic factors.

Frostegard and colleagues have now shown that diet could be used to improve the long-term health of people with rheumatoid arthritis. They concede that a bigger study group will be needed to discern which particular aspects of the diet help the most, according to the March 27, 2008 news release, "An anti-inflammatory response to the vegan diet." The study's authors are Ann-Charlotte Elkan, Beatrice Sjoberg, Bjorn Kolsrud, Bo Ringertz, Ingiald Hafstrom and Johan Frostegard. You also may wish to check out the website of BioMed Central.

Vegans also have to be powerful enough to even know what veganism is, but is going vegan for health, intelligence, influence, impact, maintaining youthfulness, entertainment, publicity, or for power and influence on the food industry?

Why is it that women in power are not portrayed in the news as turning vegan to rise through the glass ceiling? After all billionaires such as Martha Stewart don't have all vegan cooking programs like the Veria TV channel offers showing cooking with no dairy, no-eggs, and no meats in some of the cooking shows.

More CEOs are giving up meat, eggs, and dairy, for example, people mentioned in the Business Week article. Not only meat, dairy, and eggs, but some vegan CEOs also are giving up oils as well. Why oils--if the human body was made to digest fat and protein? It's about how a particular oil or fat affects an individual's metabolic and genetic response.

Do people follow CEOs because they're perceived as not only smart but also vegan?

And CEO's, the richest of them are flaunting their vegan ways. Check out the organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The new rich is vegan. More restaurants are becoming vegan-friendly to top CEOs, and the CEOs with all their wealth are not ordering only steak and martinis any more.

A lot of vegans are tasting seitan, which is wheat-meat, not realizing how constipating this gluten food can be once you eat it. Try tempeh (fermented soybeans caked and cut to look like slices of meat) if you can't tolerate wheat gluten. Now the trend is to vote for a vegan Presidential candidate if you can find a vegan candidate who's actually running.

Vegans in politics and medicine

The Ohio representative Kucinich's vegan diet has become known and is growing in popularity, especially among wealthy and powerful CEOs. According to the Business Week article, Representative Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.), the head of the Committee on House Administration, includes vegan options in the congressional cafeteria.

The media has shown a documentary featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Bill Clinton, among others. The documentary is titled, "The Last Heart Attack" featuring the current vegan diet of Bill Clinton. And Clinton emphasized how much weight he lost on a vegan diet. See, Watch it Here: The Last Heart Attack CNN Heart Disease.

Is this diet for women in power as well? You might check out Kucinich's own diet book when the publisher finally settles on a title. There are numerous vegan clubs in Sacramento that women go to for vegan socializing.

Some people even look for a vegan mate when they search for making the greatest decision they'll make in their life....Make that two decisions. First to go vegan and second to find a mate who also is vegan. Also see, What's the Healthiest Diet of All? - But why are there so few women vegans (other than some athletes) portrayed in the news as powerful, rich, and healthy at least in the mainstream media?

And for vegan foods, also check out the cafe and bakery, Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery & Cafe - Vegan Club Sandwich - Sacramento, CA. Or see, "Sacramento Vegan and Vegan Friendly Restaurants - Metro Area." You also may wish to check out the websites of the various Sacramento Vegan Societies/Clubs such as Vegan Meetups near Sacramento, California - Vegan Meetups , Vegan Family Holiday Potluck dinner club - SACRAMENTO VEGAN, Vegetarian Societies and Vegetarian Organizations for vegetarian, Raw foods and vegetarian club meetings in Sacramento, Sacramento vegetarian society, and Davis Food Co-op Club Vegan | Facebook.

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