June 9, 2009

Low-carb diet has heart benefits

A low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet high in plant-based proteins helped those overweight to lose weight and reduce heart risks, researchers in Canada said.

However, the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, also found that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat vegetarian diet also resulted in weight loss, but without the additional cardiovascular benefits.

There is a dilemma relating to the proportion and source of fat, protein and carbohydrate that constitutes the optimal weight loss and cholesterol-lowering diet, Dr. David J.A. Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto said in a statement.

The researchers tested the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet high in vegetable proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals and vegetable oils among overweight men and women with high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or bad cholesterol.

Of the 47 participants who began the study, 44 completed the four-week study period. Weight loss was similar -- or 8.8 pounds -- in both groups. However, reductions in LDL levels and improvements in the ratios between total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or good cholesterol were greater for the low-carbohydrate diet compared with the high-carbohydrate diet.