Vegetable-based low-carb diet cuts health risk
A low-carbohydrate diet that derives fats and proteins from vegetable sources rather than meats is probably healthier.
Several small, short-term studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets lead to weight loss. To examine the association of low-carbohydrate diets with mortality, researchers did study in two phases - one followed 85,168 women, aged 34 to 59 years at baseline for 26 years and other followed 44,548 men, aged 40 to 75 years at baseline for 20 years. At baseline, none of the participants had heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The researchers classified the participants' diets according to degree of adherence to the following dietary patterns - animal-based low-carbohydrate, and high-vegetable low carbohydrate. They then compared death rates between the highest and lowest adherence groups for each pattern.
Comparing the two types of diets over two decades, it was found that the low-carbohydrate, vegetable-based plan resulted in reduced rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and a lower rate of all-cause death overall.
Men and women on the animal-based low-carbohydrate diet had a 23 percent increased risk of death, a 14 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 28 percent increased risk of dying from cancer. Participants who incorporated vegetable-derived fats and proteins had a 20 percent lower death rate and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Plant-based low-carbohydrate diets get their fats mostly from vegetable oils, nuts and peanut butter. Proteins can come from legumes, nuts and whole grains.
This study is the first of its kind to demonstrate the link between different types of low carbohydrate diets and mortality. It indicates that all low carbohydrate diets are not the same, and one that is based on plant foods is a better choice than one that is based on animal foods.