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Increasing Our Ability to Predict Heart Disease Risk
CHORI Study Implicates Apolipoprotein CIII as Cause of Increased Heart Disease Risk from Diets High in Beef and Saturated Fat
September, 2012 – A new study by CHORI Senior Scientist Ronald Krauss, MD, and Nastaran Faghihnia, PhD, and their colleagues e-published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September demonstrates for the first time that a diet low in carbohydrate but high in beef protein and saturated fat increases the concentration of a protein, apolipoprotein CIII (apoCIII), that has multiple effects on lipid metabolism and is strongly associated with increased risk for heart disease.

“Our previous research had shown that unlike other low carbohydrate diets with high saturated fats but mixed protein sources, a low carb diet high in both saturated fat and beef protein results in substantial increases in lipoprotein markers for heart disease risk,” explains Dr. Krauss. "We wanted to see if a dietary effect on apoCIII might have a role in shifting lipoprotein metabolism in such a dramatic way."

“A low carb diet high in both saturated fat and beef protein results in substantial increases in lipoprotein markers for heart disease risk.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and poised to become the leading cause of death globally as well. With the obesity epidemic in the US giving rise to more and more Americans at risk for conditions associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), a major portion of the US population is now at risk for heart disease. Identifying mechanisms by which certain diets make for increased CVD risk may eventually allow researchers to develop new ways of fighting CVD, or to develop additional diagnostic tools to identify individuals at risk for CVD.

ApoCIII can both impair the uptake from the blood of lipoproteins associated with higher heart disease risk, and be directly inflammatory in the arteries.

"Inflammation may be a very important mechanism that creates dangerous plaques more likely to cause heart attack or stroke," says Dr. Krauss.

In addition, previous research by Dr. Krauss has shown that the smallest low density lipoproteins, or LDL, are associated with particularly high risk for heart disease, and that they are significantly enriched with apoCIII. This apoCIII enrichment may contribute to the damaging effects of these LDL particles.

"In the present study we found that a diet high in red meat and saturated fat induced an increase in apoCIII that was most strongly associated with the smallest LDL particles, suggesting that this effect could contribute to the adverse effects of this diet on CVD risk," explains Dr. Krauss.

The first study to examine the effect of dietary saturated fat on apoCIII, its results suggest that apoCIII could add to our ability to predict heart disease risk from changes in diet.

"In addition", says Dr.Krauss, "the results add to the considerable body of evidence that consumption of diets high in both red meats and saturated fats should be kept to a minimum."

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