Supporting previous claims new evidence shows the high fat, low carb diet promoted by the Harvard-trained diet guru Dr. Robert C. Atkins (or simply the Atkins' diet) could damage the heart.
The study found the diet with high fat and low carbohydrates directly affected the heart's ability to store energy.
For the study, Professor Kieran Clarke and colleagues from the Cardiac Metabolism Research Group of Oxford University looked at 19 people who followed the so called Atkins' diet for two weeks. Most of the diet consists of meat, eggs and dairy products.
Researchers used the magnetic resonance spectroscopy or MRS to analyze how energy was being stored and used in the heart muscle.
After two weeks on the Atkins' diet, they found the participants had stored energy significantly reduced although many other aspects of heart function remained unaffected. A severe depletion of stored energy could be a risk factor for heart failures.
The researchers said the heart was affected directly by the unbalanced diet. The reduction of stored energy in the heart could be significant. Daily Mail quoted Dr. Clarke as saying, "One of the participants even noticed this (change) in his everyday life - he couldn't manage his daily run while on the diet."
However, the effect could be reversed after the participants resumed a normal diet after the two-week trial, according to the researchers.
Dr Clarke said, "of course, this is a small and short term piece of work. The body is remarkably adaptive and what we don't know is whether our hearts would have gradually returned to normal had we stuck to the diet long-term."
Daily Mail.co.uk quotes Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, as saying, "Diet devotees can be reassured that this research in no way suggests that a high fat, low carb regime is going to give them heart failure.
"However, they should be aware that extreme, unbalanced diets are a major insult on their bodies' metabolism and as this study indicates, may have direct effect son their hearts."
The Atkins' diet is known to include high fat, which draws criticism from many who believe that use of a high fat diet by itself may pose a health risk.
Source: American Heart Association