The effects of a Mediterranean diet, low-carbohydrate diet, and very-low-carbohydrate diet on c-reactive protein levels

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Stanley, Jacqueline A.

Obesity is associated with high plasma c-reactive proten (CRP) levels, an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diet (MD), low-carbohydrate diets (LCD), and very-low-carbohydrate diets (VLCD) are gaining popularity and have been studied for their effects on CRP. Purpose: The goal of this study is to compare the effects of the MD, LCD, and VLCD on CRP levels.

Method: A systematic evidence-based literature review was conducted comparing these diets. Medline, PubMed, and FirstSearch databases were searched using the MeSH terms c-reactive protein, low-carbohydrate diet, Mediterranean diet, ketogenic diet, and inflammatory markers.

Results: Twelve studies examined either of the three diets and their effects on CRP. Each diet has similar effects on CRP in obese individuals. Four studies examined the MD while the other eight a LCD or VLCD. Half of the articles for the MD showed significant decrease in CRP whereas the other half revealed no significant change in CRP. Four LCD and two VLCD articles showed significant reduction in CRP while one LCD and one VLCD study revealed no change.

Conclusion: An A grade of recommendation can be made that all three diets effectively lower CRP levels when weight loss is observed. Healthy individuals with normal BMI do not achieve a reduction in CRP with adherence to these three diets.

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A project presented to the Department of Physician Assistant of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physician Assistant.