Dr. Dean Ornish is the founder of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute; author of six bestselling books; The Ornish program was rated #1 for heart health by U.S. News & World Report in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and is the first program based in lifestyle change to ever be covered by Medicare; Dean has been appointed by two U.S. Presidents to White House health advisory boards; and chosen by Forbes as one of the seven most powerful teachers in the world.
He said recently - after the above study was released - that “As far as the Atkins and now the Paleo and all these meat-based diets go, what’s really lost in all of this is that the studies may show that you’re losing weight but you’re mortgaging your health in the process. There was a wonderful article in the New England Journal by Steven Smith a few years ago. What they found was that if you look at the risk factors in some of these studies that there may not be that much difference but if you look at the underlying ‘what happens to the arteries’, which is really the key, that when on a diet like I would recommend, the arteries are clean and they get better”.
“On an Atkins type diet, the arteries are actually more clogged, even if it’s not reflected in the so-called traditional risk factors like cholesterol and blood pressure and things like that. And what they found was that on a ‘high protein Atkins type’ or paleo ‘low carb’ diet, that the levels of what are called non-esterified fatty acids are twice as high as those fed a healthier diet. They have markedly lower numbers of what are called circulating endothelial progenitor’s cells”.
“What this simply means, is that the damage that it causes to your health when you go on these high animal protein diets, Atkins and paleo, are not reflected in their LDL and blood pressure levels and so on but when you actually look at their blood – which is the bottom line, after all, high cholesterol is not a disease, at best it’s a risk factor for disease. The disease is what’s happening in your arteries and we actually looked at the arteries and this is what they found. On a healthy diet like I would recommend [plant-based wholefood diet], these were essentially clean and on a high fat, high protein, low carb diet, they are clogged up”.