Low Carb Dieting – 20 Year Study concludes no Relationship to increase Risk for Coronary Heart Disease

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Low Carb Dieting – 20 Year Study concludes no Relationship to increase Risk for Coronary Heart Disease

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Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that there was no evidence for increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) when eating a low-carbohydrate diet. For those that followed a low carb diet based on vegetable sources of fat and protein showed that there is a reduced risk for CHD. The study was first published in the November 9th issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

"This study suggests that neither a low-fat dietary pattern nor a typical low-carbohydrate dietary pattern is ideal with regards to risk of CHD; both have similar risks. However, if a diet moderately lower in carbohydrates is followed, with a focus on vegetable sources of fat and protein, there may be a benefit for heart disease," said Tom Halton, a former doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.

Dietary recommendations for heart health have been a low-fat-high-carbohydrate diet in an attempt to control weight and to reduce heart disease. Atkins was the first to promote the low-carb diet for weight loss. This study reassures some of the safety of eating a low-carb. You should always check with your doctor for when changing your diet or exercise as it could be hazardous to change your eating habits.

Vegetable sources of fat and protein showed benefits for lowering a person’s risk for developing CHD. South Beach has developed a program for vegetarians that are low-carb.

The researchers collected the data from a 20 year Nurses’ Health Study, which studied 82,802 women. This study began in 1976. The study participants were graded on how they ate. They were categorized based on fat, protein, carbohydrate intake. The score of a 0 was the lowest fat and protein and highest carbohydrate intake up to a 30 which was the highest fat and protein with the lowest carbohydrate intake. The higher the score the more the person was considered a low-carb person.

The researchers further divided the low-carb scores based on the amount of animal sources for protein and fat compared to vegetable sources for protein and fat. These percentages were to help differentiate the dietary sources of meat verses vegetarian food source for the nutrition. While the researchers found no extra risk associated with meat eating low-carb participants, they did see a benefit for those that got most of their protein and fat from vegetable sources. The found a 30 percent decreased risk for developing CHD if the participants got most of their protein and fat from vegetable sources.

The also found that if participants had other health conditions such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia they did not pose any greater risk than the general population.

The researchers found that high glycemic load which is caused by eating refined carbohydrates or a high-carb diet was strongly associated with an increased risk for CHD. Eating lower glycemic index foods, such as whole grains, along with unprocessed foods would help lower your risk. High glycemic foods also cause a spike in insulin which can help to promote the development of diabetes.

The researchers warn that this does not give a person permission to eat all the meat they want without considering of neglecting getting nutrition from vegetables. They suggest since the vegetable sources of fat and protein offer the most benefits, it would be best to work on quality of foods not quantity. Trying to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat, and work on eating healthy types of fat and carbohydrates would be a better goal.

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