Ask Dr. Nandi: Paleo diet may be bad for heart health

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jul 30, 2019

There’s bad news for fans of the popular Paleo diet. New research has found it could threaten heart health.

I know there are a lot of die-hard Paleo followers who really believe that this diet is healthy.

Now the Paleo diet is also known as the Caveman Diet because what you eat is supposedly more in line with what our ancestors ate back in the stone age.

So you avoid whole grains, dairy products, legumes, and refined sugars. And instead, your diet consists mainly of meat, eggs, veggies, nuts and certain fruits.

So how could this potentially put your heart health at risk?

Well, a team of Australian researchers followed over 90 participants. Roughly half of them followed Paleo diets and the others followed a more typical diet that met national dietary recommendations.

After about a year, the participants in the Paleo group had higher blood levels of a compound found in the gut that’s associated with heart disease. It’s called TMAO –that’s short for trimethylamine N-oxide. On top of that, the researchers also found higher concentrations of a gut bacteria that is responsible for producing TMAO.

So what might be causing this?

Well, I can tell you that whole grains are important for good gut health. They contain resistant starch and fermentable fibers which are vital for your gut bugs or microbiome.

Now I know that grains can be confusing as my patients often ask me about them. And here’s what I tell them:

  1. There are two types of grain products, whole grains and refined grains. Chose the healthy whole grains - examples are oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and whole wheat.
  2. Next, don’t judge food products by how they look. Instead, read nutrition labels, you should see “whole” or “whole grain” listed as the first ingredient.
  3. Lastly, eat a variety of healthy grains because they can have different nutrient content.

Now, if you skip refined grains and replace them with whole grains, you’ll not only cut out a lot of junk food, but you’ll feel full longer because of the fiber whole grains contain. And this can help you lose weight.

So skip the trendy diets and instead chose a more balanced diet as it really is best for optimal health.