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Low Carb vs High Carb: Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC)

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A look at the results of a study that measured coronary artery calcium score (CAC) over time for people eating a lower or higher carb diet as well as more or less animal fat and protein.

Hey it’s mike here and today a showdown of higher versus lower carbohydrate diets in terms of coronary artery calcium score which is a measure of the progression of heart disease and the study didn’t stop at carbs it also looked at animal versus plant fat to get an idea of how much people were eating from those different sources to get more interesting answers

And so we’ll see who wins the showdown in terms of coronary artery calcium score let’s go first i want to start by really quickly touching on more details about coronary artery calcium score which in the medical field is known as cac just keeping you on your toes here is a doctor from the denver talking about it so a coronary artery calcium scoring is a screening

Test to detect the presence of coronary artery vascular disease what a calcium score is is a low-dose cat scan of the heart arteries in your chest that is designed to detect the presence of calcium within the coronary arteries which are the arteries that supply blood to your heart as you develop what is called hardening of the arteries that fatty plaque turns

To calcium and up until this study we haven’t really had a comparison of lower carb eating for coronary artery calcium score but i have heard some low carbers say high meat lovers being like oh actually my score is zero therefore all of this animal fat is doing absolutely nothing my arteries are very clear you should eat the way i eat bloody blah but even looking

To a chart like this for men 45 to 49 about half of them have a score of zero so this is something that can take a while to progress in most people but obviously you don’t want this to be high and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have those dangerous soft plaques and stuff like that and inflammation at any level if you are at a zero and it is worth also looking

Really quickly for women at 60 to 64 it reaches that same point where about half have a score of zero so women are doing way better there we can speculate at the end why that is but let’s keep going i also want to say something quickly about low carb diets i am not anti-low-carb diet it’s just a matter of what it’s made up of i mean if you’re eating a bunch of

Whole plant foods you’re obviously going to be doing way better than somebody who is even not on a low carb diet not eating that way and we’re going to see that reflected in the data a little bit as we’ve seen in the past i mean spoiler alert we’ve seen that higher meat low carb diets meta-analysis after meta-analysis are associated with increased mortality like

This one about a 30 increase this one also about a 30 increase so that’s a little bit of a background but let’s just get right to the study the study came out late last year and there was a lot going on then so most people i feel like missed it and yes it’s an observational study meaning that they weren’t putting people on a diet and then doing an experimental

Trial like a randomized control trial so yeah it’s not the best data in the world but these studies are still really important in gaining a mounting amount of data on a certain topic they should not be ignored and yes while this study was done by a bunch of chinese authors and it was funded partially by sort of like the chinese national institute of health it was

Also funded by our national institute of health in the u.s and it was on u.s populations across the united states so they got a baseline measurement of the coronary artery calcium score and then on average about eight and a half years later they got a second follow-up score and they did that for about 2 200 people so there’s definitely a lot of data there they

Of course measured how many carbs people were eating and let’s just get to the result here it is after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and other dietary factors carbohydrate intake as a percentage of total energy was inversely associated with the risk of coronary artery calcium progression at about 27 lower risk of having worse progression

If you were eating more carbs so carbs equals better in this scenario and here’s a chart from the study showing stepwise bam the more carb is it the lower progression they saw on the coronary artery calcium score interesting stuff and i will say the result was more dramatic until they adjusted for a bunch of those factors some of them i think they absolutely did

Need to adjust for some of them not quite as much they adjusted for a ton and we’re talking ones that i don’t think they should have adjusted for as much including ldl cholesterol which is causally linked to saturated fat consumption and the main source of that in a western diet like this is animal fat so it’s sort of adjusting for something that’s causally linked

To the difference between the groups which i think is problematic they also adjusted for fiber intake which i think could have also been problematic in terms of the animal-based low-carb diet because animal products do not have fiber fiber is from plants and so it’s you know a little bit of an overlap there which might be lessening the difference so it’s probably

Not 50 percent lower like in the model where they only adjusted for sex and race it’s you know probably higher than the 27 percent lower coronary artery calcium progression in the final model that’s my guess at least but now let’s get to that difference for animal versus plant foods quote the animal-based but not plant-based low-carb diet score was significantly

Associated with a higher risk of coronary artery calcium progression about 45 more so the more plant-based low-carb diet was not associated with any increase in coronary artery calcium score it’s even worth mentioning on top of that that this study found that people eating a plant-based lower carb diet had a lower mortality and i think it’s pretty interesting that

This result holds strong when you’re looking in this context of a standard american diet where higher carb also means higher refined sugar and despite that it still did significantly better than the lower carb higher animal fat and yes it is the case that refined sugar can lead to oxidization and inflammation in the artery and progress things in that direction

So yeah that animal fat’s not doing any favors i also think it’s really interesting to look at the demographics or the attributes of these different groups in terms of carbs we have the low middle and higher carb group and we can see yes they adjusted for some of these but we have a statistically significant difference in terms of education level the people who

Ate lower carb were less educated they also were heavier and finally get this they already had the highest baseline coronary artery calcium progression so they were starting from a worse point eating their low carb diet now there is one limitation of the study in terms of convincing people who are on their super low carb diets that this applies to them which by

All means should in terms of what animal fat does to the arteries we see over and over and over and over again but the issue here is that the low carb group was still eating about 39.5 percent of total calories from carbs the high carb group was 57.5 which super high carb people eating all those plants would probably be like that’s not a heart that’s not high carb

Enough either that being said we’re seeing a very clear trend it was step wise that the people eating that lower carb diet with meat with animal fat we’re seeing more coronary artery calcium progression they got more cacca in their arteries and that really is important because we’re talking about the hardening of the arteries here which means they aren’t able to

Dilate they aren’t able to do a lot of things you want them to do the inner wall becomes more and more messed up and you just things that you don’t want the final thing i want to touch on is that initial gender difference that i mentioned where women just do way better in this area and now yes you could say estrogen helps with the arteries and therefore that’s

Responsible for all of it i do not think that’s the case as i’ve talked about in a really old video the gender difference we see in terms of heart disease in general i think has largely to do with the cultural increased desire for men to eat more animal fat in terms of meat got to get that manliness in there until you just get clogged with all the manliness then

You can’t even be manly anymore you can watch my erectile dysfunction video for that one but let’s just hit the conclusion of the study really quickly one of the highlights quote replacement of carbohydrates with predominantly animal but not plant protein or fat in low carbohydrate diets has the potential of enhancing coronary artery calcium progression in the end

This is just another piece of evidence against eating animal fat for harder health heartry health and i know this is gonna be completely ignored by everybody that eats a low-carb animal-based diet but it’s just another study out there that should be added to the repertoire all right let me know down below what you think about this have you had your coronary artery

Calcium score done what did you think anyway feel free to like and subscribe and all that good stuff that helps my channel out i also have a patreon which i forget to mention all the time but thanks so much to those supporters anyway thanks for watching everybody see you later

Transcribed from video
Low Carb vs High Carb: Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC) By Mic the Vegan