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Low-carb, high-fat diets increase heart risk

low carb high fat diet increases heart risk No better than low-fat diets

Diets low in carbohydrates and high in fats do not perform better than high-carb, low-fat diets, and they may have an increased risk of heart complications, new research has found.

The research, lead by Dr Steven Hunter from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, compared the effects of a 20% fat, 60% carbohydrate diet (low-fat, high-carb) against a 60% fat, 20% carbohydrate (high-fat, low-carb) diet. Participants were all obese pre-diabetic adults.

In all areas - except risk of cardiovascular disease - the effects of both diets were the same. For instance, there was no significant difference in:

  • the body’s glucose uptake or production
  • meal tolerance-related insulin secretion
  • overall weight loss

But as far as heart health risk, the low-carb, high-fat diet resulted in "significantly" stiffer arteries, which points to increased risk of heart disease for this group.

The study looked at a group of 24 adults over an 8 week period.

"High-fat diets have become popular because they seemingly promote more rapid weight loss and because of their palatability. However, we now have proof that they do not help people lose weight any faster than more conventional diets, and the potential negatives of increased cardiovascular risks far outweigh the potential positives of more easily sustained dieting/weight loss, especially when there is a proven and safe alternative in low-fat high-carbohydrate weight loss diets," Dr Hunter said.

The results are released hot on the heels of both National Obesity Week and World Diabetes Day. Nearly a quarter of the UK adult population, and 16% of the child population, are now classified as obese and at risk of Type 2 Diabetes – 80% of all people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.

"If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, make sure you do it the right way and don’t burden your body with additional unnecessary health risks by falling for the lure of the seemingly easy and fast weight loss offered by high-fat diets. The best approach for your overall health is a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet, coupled with exercise," Dr. Hunter said.

This article was published on Thu 10 December 2009

Image © © Tomasz Trojanowski - Fotolia.com

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