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Low-Carbohydrate Diet Helps Reduce Weight, Keeps Heart Healthy

Sep 02, 2014 06:25 AM EDT
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To lose weight, reduce the intake of carbohydrates and not dietary fat, a new study shows.

A diet low in carbs also keeps the heart healthy, say researchers at the Tulane University's School of Public Health in New Orleans, who conducted the study.

Low carbohydrate diets - in which people need to cut down on breads and pastas - are quite popular among people seeking to lose weight. However, their effects on heart health are unknown. The latest study shows that reducing carbs in diet can not only help with weight reduction, but also help keep the heart healthy.

The study was based on data from 148 men and women. None of the participants had any heart disease or diabetes at the start of the study. All of them were classified as obese and about half of them were black. Participants were asked to follow a low-carbohydrate (less than 40g a day) or low-fat diet (less than 30 percent of daily calories from fat).

After one year, both black and white participants in the low-carbohydrate group exhibited greater weight reductions. Also, all of them had lower fat mass and other cardiovascular risk factors than people in the low-fat group, according to a news release.

"This study shows if you are overweight and have cardiovascular disease risk factors and haven't had success on other diets, certainly a low-carbohydrate diet is worth a try," said Dr. Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University in New Orleans, Reuters reported.

A related study from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, had earlier shown that women who increased protein levels in diet shed more weight than others.

Not all experts are convinced about the study findings though. Sonya Angelone, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that people in the low-carb diet didn't stick to the diet plan for more than a year. Also, during the study, people ate around 127 grams of carbohydrates a day compared to 40 grams of carbs recommended by the researchers.

A major problem with low- carbohydrate diet  is that it leads to a deficiency of fiber in diet, Angelone, who wasn't part of the study, told CBS news.

The study is published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. 

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