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Vegan Diet Helps in Losing Weight, Lowers Heart Disease Risk

May 24, 2014 10:20 AM EDT

Following a vegan diet could lower heart disease risk and help with weight loss, a new study suggests.

The study, conducted by St. Michael's Hospital researchers, found that Eco-Atkins diet reduced heart disease risk by 10 percent over a period of ten years.

Eco-Atkins is a low-carbon vegan diet. Unlike other low-carb diets, Eco-Atkins doesn't promote the intake of animal protein and so helps control cholesterol levels.

Twenty six percent of calories in Eco-Atkins come from carbohydrates while 31 percent comes from proteins and 43 from fats. Major source of fats are vegetable oils.

"We killed two birds with one stone - or, rather, with one diet," explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."

The study included 23 obese men and women. Participants were presented with menu plans and were asked to pick the one that suited them best. The opportunity to swap one food with another helped subjects adhere to the diet plan.

Participants were asked to consume 60 percent of their estimated caloric requirements.

Over a six-month period, people following the Eco-Atkins diet had a ten percent lower cholesterol levels as compared to people adhering to high-carbohydrate and low-fat diet, according to a news release.

"We could expect similar results in the real world because study participants selected their own diets and were able to adjust to their needs and preferences," said Dr. Jenkins, who is a vegan.

The study is published in the journal British Medical Journal Open.

Health experts encourage people to eat a balanced diet a wide variety of foods and not to miss out on important food groups. Please consult a physician before embarking on a new diet, especially if you already suffer from a health complication. 

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