Do Carbs Cause Atherosclerosis & Heart Disease?

Researchers have found a way to significantly reduce atherosclerosis that does not involve treating cholesterol, blood pressure or insulin resistance.

And, as for those that don’t know, atherosclerosis is the process through which fatty substances, such as cholesterol and cellular waste products accumulate in the lining of arteries and….it is those buildups, called plaques which reduce blood flow through the artery and can contribute to heart attack, stroke and even gangrene.

  • In short, atherosclerosis is bad news.
  • It is also big business for the drub companies.
  • And as a result, this research is big news in the medical community.

the developmental process of atherosclerosis

The Research

In the study, the research team inhibited atherosclerosis in mice by interfering with production of a substance called fatty acid synthase.

This enzyme converts dietary sugars into fatty acids in the liver, where it plays an important role in energy metabolism.

It is also involved in the creation of atherosclerosis.

“The plaques that clog arteries contain large amounts of fatty acids,” says senior investigator Clay F. Semenkovich, MD. In this study, “we engineered mice that are unable to make fatty acid synthase in one of the major cell types (the macrophages) that contribute to plaque formation”.

The result.

“On a standard Western diet high in fat, the mice had less atherosclerosis than their normal littermates.”

So, what does this mean to you?

According to the researchers, these mouse experiments suggest targeting fatty acid synthase in macrophages may provide a potential treatment strategy for humans.

The researchers identified factors in the fatty acid pathway that seem to be capable of preventing plaques from blocking arteries in mice. He says those substances – LXR-alpha and ABCA1 – eventually may become drug targets.

“It may be possible, for example, to take macrophages out of humans, inhibit fatty acid synthase in those cells, and then infuse the macrophages back into the same person,” he says. “From what we’ve observed in mice, we would hypothesize that approach might prevent or interfere with plaque buildup in people.”


double chocolate gooey butter cakeWe could give our heads a collective shake and simply reduce our intake of the substance causing the plaque build-up in the first place.



Damn…now I’m getting hungry.

Time for a grilled cheese sandwich and my experimental synthase inhibitor.



Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

5 thoughts on “Do Carbs Cause Atherosclerosis & Heart Disease?

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  • September 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Developing drugs that could inhibit fatty acid synthase production would be years away then even longer to get FDA approval. I don’t think that removing those cells cells from the body, inhibiting the enzyme then infusing them back into the person would be very practical. It would be wiser to educate people as to the dangers associated with excess consumption of sugary foods. I say “excess” because in most cases, people are still going to consume foods containing simple sugars but the key is moderation. Eating a doughnut or drinking a glass of soda pop is alright provided it is done only rarely.


  • August 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Good post. It is very informational, having a balanced diet would prevent atherosclerosis.

    • September 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Chad, the importance of eating a healthy diet can have numerous health benefits.

  • July 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Hey Doug, interesting article!

    I could really go for a double chocolate gooey butter cake with a Mocha Frappuccino… Maybe after I grab a Big Mac and some fries. ;)

    Actually that reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with someone. After eating something like a delicious double chocolate gooey butter cake, she remarked that she would have to spend another five minutes on the StairMaster tomorrow. My mind drifted and I tried to think of how tiny of a piece of that cake she would actually burn off in five minutes on the StairMaster…


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