Patients with metabolic syndrome are instructed to eat a low-fat diet but carbohydrate restriction has been found to be more effective at lowering triglyceride levels, characteristic of the syndrome.
The new study has indicated that a diet low in carbohydrates is more effective than a diet low in fat in reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut with co-authors from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California, the new study is published in the on-line version of the journal Lipids.
Resaerchers agree that reducing inflammation factors are key in treating metabolic syndrome related diseases.The new study shows much greater improvement in inflammatory markers in patients with metabolic syndrome on a very low carbohydrate approach compared to a low fat diet.
Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and the lead author, describes the study as "adding to the evolving picture of improvement in general health beyond simple weight loss in keeping blood glucose and insulin under control."
The study is currently under review and shows that "lowering total and saturated fat only had a small effect on circulating inflammatory markers whereas reducing carbohydrate led to considerably greater reductions in a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules. These data implicate dietary carbohydrate rather than fat as a more significant nutritional factor contributing to inflammatory processes."
Richard Feinman, PhD, professor of biochemistry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, added: "The real importance of diets that lower carbohydrate content is that they are grounded in mechanism - carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion which biases fat metabolism towards storage rather than oxidation. The inflammation results open a new aspect of the problem. From a practical standpoint, continued demonstrations that carbohydrate restriction is more beneficial than low fat could be good news to those wishing to forestall or manage the diseases associated with metabolic syndrome."
One of the remarkable effects in the data presented that may have contributed to the results is that despite the three-fold greater saturated fat in the diet for the low carb group, saturated fat in the blood turned out to be higher in the low fat group due to the process known as carbohydrate-induced lipogenesis.
Dr. Volek points out that "this clearly shows the limitations of the idea that 'you are what you eat.' Metabolism plays a big role. You are what your body does with what you eat."