Accusation #14: Objectionably Asserts Diet is Bad for Heart
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Atkins Offers No Viable Alternative to Drugs
Dr. Atkins warned about the dangers associated with the cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs,[1008] but then didn't offer a diet that could lower one's cholesterol enough to avoid a lifetime of these costly drugs.[1009] On the contrary, the Atkins Diet has in fact been shown to seriously worsen heart disease.[1010]

Atkins claims that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Expert Panel that sets heart disease prevention guidelines advocates drugs as the "first line of defense."[1011] This is incorrect. They advocate "lifestyle changes as first-line therapy" as the "the foundation" of prevention[1012] and drugs typically only if lifestyle changes fail. The primary lifestyle change they recommend is "reduced intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol,"[1013] exactly the opposite of what happens when people go on your diet.[1014]

When it comes to diet, LDL cholesterol is the single most important risk factor for heart disease,[1015] the number one killer in the United States for both men and women.[1016] The immediate goal is to get one's LDL down to double digits,[1017] like most of the people in the world.[1018]. An LDL level below 100 mg/dl "is now considered optimal for all individuals."[1019]

According to the distinguished editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology,[1020] the only two groups in America that seem to consistently reach that goal are those on cholesterol-lowering medications and those on a "pure vegetarian" diet.[1021] The only diet that seems to routinely bring one's bad cholesterol down into the target zone is one devoid of all saturated animal fat and cholesterol.[1022]

Based on the best current published data, the average LDL cholesterol level of Americans is estimated at 130 mg/dl.[1023] Bill Clinton was at 134 at the end of his presidency.[1024] Studies show that the average LDL of healthy meateaters (typically well-educated lean non-smokers with high exercise levels--so healthy in fact that they have half the mortality rates of the general population) is 121, for those who just eat fish 114, vegetarians almost make the mark at 106. and vegans seem the only dietary group that achieves the target LDL at 90 mg/dl.[1022]

While almost every single study of low carb diets showed no reduction--or even an elevation--in LDL levels,[1025-1038] that one single uncontrolled Atkins-funded study you cite that showed a significant drop in LDL levels took 6 months to bring LDL levels from 136 to 126, still very much in the danger zone.[1039]

For Americans to drop from 130 to under 100, they need at least a 23% drop in LDL. That's exactly how much a low fat primarily vegetarian diet can decrease LDL in 3 weeks based on a study of 4587 adults.[1040] Compare that to the best that your dieters have been shown to do--a 7% drop in 6 months.

Cholesterol-lowering diets don't have to be low fat, though. A full-fat phytonutrient-rich vegan diet has been shown to drop LDL 30% in 2 weeks--which is as much as one gets with cholesterol-lowering medications.[1041]

This may be the reason then why, when researchers are able to directly measure the arterial blockages in the heart, vegetarian diets have been shown to reverse heart disease, increasing blood flow up to 40%, whereas those on your diet suffered a worsening of their blockages, decreasing blood flow 40%.[1042]
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Atkins Facts:
> What the Experts Think of Atkins
> Faulty Science
> Short-Term Side Effects
> All Long-Term Studies on Atkins a Wash
> Long-Term Side Effects
> The Safer Alternative
> References 1-1160

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