AVENTURA, Fla., Feb. 4 -- In a study released in this month's issue of the journal "Metabolism," UCLA scientists report that the Pritikin diet, low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, augmented with daily exercise, significantly reduced C-reactive protein levels in study participants.
Last year, the American Heart Association added C-reactive protein testing as a leading assessment tool in determining heart attack risk. High levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood indicate inflammation in blood vessel walls. Scientists now suspect that coronary-artery inflammation plays a key role in making fatty deposits in the artery vulnerable to rupture, a leading cause of heart attacks. In fact, high CRP levels may be a better predictor of heart attacks than cholesterol levels, according to new research led by Harvard professor Dr. Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
With the increasing concern over heart disease in women (it is the #1 killer of women over 50), CRP testing may be of particular benefit. A recently published study from Harvard University on 28,000 women found that those with the highest CRP levels were twice as likely to suffer heart problems as those with high LDL bad cholesterol.
In the new study, the UCLA team, lead by Dr. James Barnard, UCLA Department of Physiological Science, measured "entry and exit" blood values of 20 women, ages 51 to 79 years, attending a two-week program at the Pritikin Longevity Center(R). All had multiple risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
At Pritikin, the women exercised daily and ate a diet focused on high- fiber carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Their diet also included lean, calcium-rich foods like nonfat milk and small, lean servings of seafood, poultry, and red meat. The women were encouraged to eat until they were full.
In just two weeks, CRP levels plunged, on average, 45%. There were also major reductions in LDL cholesterol (19%), total cholesterol (17%), insulin (26%), glucose (11%), and triglycerides (15%).
Concludes Dr. Barnard: "We know that inflammation is a key problem, a leading cause of heart disease, and now we're learning that diet and exercise plans like the Pritikin Program may be a safe, smart solution. In fact, no other diet-and-exercise program or drug therapy, including statins, has proven to lower C-reactive protein levels so dramatically -- or so rapidly."
The Pritikin Longevity Center(R) & Spa located at the Yacht Club of Turnberry Isle Resort in Aventura, Florida, houses Pritikin's residential program that combines education, low-fat eating and structured exercise, tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Within the past few decades, more than 90 studies in prestigious medical journals like the New England Journal of Medicine have documented the Pritikin Program's remarkable success in helping more than 75,000 people who have visited the Center and millions of others worldwide lose weight, control their blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, normalize blood pressure, and overcome the effects of diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
The Pritikin(R) Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of resident physicians and practitioners specializing in cardiology, nutrition, internal medicine, psychology, cancer, as well as leading physicians and researchers from UCLA. Daily, they track results, alter protocols, and put new research data to work, unceasing in their efforts to fine-tune the Pritikin Approach according to cutting-edge science.