During heart month, we’ve heard local cardiologists tell us eating healthy and exercising is important, but one said people need to be careful when choosing a diet because it may have long-term effects.

Doctor Bassam Saliba, a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center, says the KETO diet, which is a low carb – high-fat diet, looked good in the beginning.

“It was promising because the patient actually lost weight,” Dr. Saliba said. “In the initial stages, it did improve carbohydrate control. It improved diabetic control.”

But, as time went on, he said it didn’t look as beneficial as it once did.

“It actually leads to increased cholesterol increased the bad cholesterol to what we call the LDL and the benefit on the glucose control over time is lost,” Dr. Saliba said.

Dr. Saliba said if you’re wanting to try the KETO diet, do your research first.

“And not just read what happens in the first six months, but literally what happens two years and five years later,” he said.

He suggests talking with your doctor before starting any diet.

“I want people to go to basics,” Dr. Saliba said “If we just think about what makes sense. What makes sense is for us to eat healthier, less animal fat. Every single study done with less animal fat, more plant food, any kind of plant food is much, much better. So, we don’t have to every time reinvent the wheel and try to always look for an easy way out to lose weight. We can do that by eating healthy. Exercise.”

He said when it comes to exercising, you don’t have to spend an hour gym.

“They can walk, they can hike, they can plant, dig, build a fence,” he said. “Take their kids to play soccer, basketball, any form of physical activity plus healthier eating.”

Dr. Saliba said long-term studies have shown that eating a healthy diet is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. So, as the weather is nice, get out, get moving and eat healthier.