The growing popularity of low-carbohydrate, Atkins-type diets, which typically allow high levels of protein, has been cited as a factor in growing beef demand.

Now the trend is even moving into the health-food market. The Denver Post reports that Wild Oats Markets, a large chain of natural-foods stores, is offering a growing selection of low-carb products and will introduce a low-carb shopping guide by the end of this year. Company officials say customer requests for low-carb foods have increased dramatically.

The popularity of Dr. Atkins' diet also has spawned Atkins Nutritionals, a company producing and marketing reduced-carb foods. Especially popular are the company's own brand of low-carb ice cream, brownies, spaghetti, pizza, milk and chips — foods normally forbidden by the Atkins diet. It is estimated that Atkins Nutritionals generated more than $100 million in sales last year and that figure could double this year.

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