cholesterol molecule, image by Sbrools (Wikimedia Commons)

A diet that encourages you to eat lots of meat, eggs and butter has been linked to cardio-vascular disease, by increasing blood cholesterol.

This may not sound surprising to those of us who were brought up with the conventional wisdom that saturated fats and red meat are bad for you, specifically bad for your heart. However, being brought up under conventional popular ideas of nutrition does not an expert make.

Neither does following faddish diets that let you eat these somewhat taboo foods at the expense of other, more conventional dishes.

The Atkins diet, popularized in the 1990s, paints carbohydrates as the main villain in terms of weight gain. Limiting their consumption, according to Dr. Atkins, promotes weight-loss. But some studies found that high consumption of animal fats and high-protein, low-carb diets put individuals at risk for heart disease.

A Swedish study supports previous findings that low-carb/high-fat diets like the Atkins diet have a “major impact” on the risk for heart disease and only promote weight loss in the short term.

Of course things are not always that simple, according to the leader of the study, who is quoted in the Telegraph:

The association between nutrition and health is complex. It involves specific food components, interactions among those food components, and interactions with genetic factors and individual needs.

–Prof Ingegerd Johansson, University of Gothenburg

Makes sense, right?

For another, more humorous, perspective, here’s David Mitchell: