Low-Carb Diet Decreases Heart Disease Risk Trumps Low-Fat Option

Low-Carb Diet Decreases Heart Disease Risk Trumps Low-Fat Option

A low-carbohydrate diet may be better than a low-fat diet for losing weight and reducing risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to an article published in the September 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. Low-Carb Diet Decreases Heart Disease Risk

Lydia A. Bazzano, MD, PhD, MPH, from the Department of Epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 148 adults who did not have diabetes or CVD.

75 participants, with no history of diabetes, were in the low-carbohydrate group and 73 were given the low-fat diets. Women made up about 88% of the subjects ranging in age from 45-50 years old and were equally racially mixed group of both Black and White.

At 1 year, the researchers found that the low-carbohydrate group averaged almost 8 lbs. more in total weight lost, they had a 1.5% greater loss of fat mass and averaged a 1.7% increase in their lean muscle mass compared to those on the low fat diet.

Low-Carb Diet Decreases Heart Disease Risk

The low-carbohydrate participants showed significantly greater decreases in C-reactive protein levels, estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease, their ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol showed significant improvement as did their serum triglyceride levels.

“[T]his 12-month randomized, trial showed that a low-carbohydrate diet resulted in greater weight loss and reduction in cardiovascular risk factors than a low-fat diet among obese black and white adults,” the researchers conclude.

“Our findings suggest that people who want to lose weight and have risk factors for heart disease could consider a low-carbohydrate diet as an option to both lose weight and improve those risk factors,” stated coauthor Tian Hu, MD, a doctoral research fellow at Tulane.

Benefits Of Low-Carb Diet Seen Across Ethnic Groups

The researchers write that Low-Carb Diet Decreases Heart Disease Risk in their findings are consistent with the findings of other studies as to body weight. “In addition, our findings suggest that the loss of fat mass accounts for most of the reduction in body weight on a low-carbohydrate diet, which is consistent with other study findings,” they note.

“Our study has a couple of important differences compared to others. Some previous studies had included only diabetics, or mostly participants with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease. Participants in our study were generally healthy. They might have hypertension or dyslipidemia, but they did not have any clinical cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or diabetes,”

“The diversity of the study group is also an important contribution. Previous studies included mostly white participants or did not test a typical low-carbohydrate diet,” he added. “When we evaluated the effects of both diets in African-American and Caucasian participants separately, the results were similar.”

What happens after the study is still to be determined. “We could only examine results over the 1-year period of the study. But it’s very likely that adherence to the diet may have [an] impact on CVD risk reduction,” Dr. Hu noted.

Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(5):309-318. Abstract