We’ve all heard of the Paleo Diet. This hunter-gatherer diet consists of meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils. The diet eliminates processed foods that are high in salt, sugar and calories. The diet’s success has been linked to weight loss and higher energy. A recent 2015 study suggests that this diet might be just as effective as the American Heart Association’s (AHA) heart healthy recommendations for lowering total cholesterol (TC), LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and improving HDL levels (good cholesterol), as well as influencing weight loss.
What the science is saying:
Twenty adults (mean age of 53) with a history of high cholesterol participated in an eight-month prospective study. This was a two-phase diet where subjects followed AHA heart healthy recommendations for four months and then the Paleo diet for an additional four months. Nutrition counseling, 24-hour diet recalls and sample meal plans were given throughout the study. Results showed significant improvements in LDL, HDL and TC levels along with weight loss in subjects at the end of the eight-month period. This suggests that the Paleo diet may be an effective diet to lower lipid profiles and promote weight loss in hypercholesterolemic adults. Limitations of the study included its subject size and lack of diversity in subjects.
Bottom Line: Both the AHA recommendations and the Paleo diet have similarities that emphasize a diet high in fruits and vegetables. If you are following the Paleo diet, ensure that you are choosing lean sources of protein that do not contain high levels of saturated fat. Because fad diets like the Paleo diet don't seem to stick, try to make dietary changes that are more habitual to prevent chronic diseases. A perfect example of this is to try to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Written By: Charlotte Walker, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. American Heart Association
2. National Library of Medicine