More people are watching their carbs these days, thanks to the influence of low-carbohydrate diet plans such as Atkins and South Beach. A low-carb diet has benefits for weight loss, at least short-term, and may help to reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels. But, the benefits may depend on what type of low-carb diet you choose. According to a new study, eating a meat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet could increase your risk of dying early.
Low Carb, Meat-Rich Diets vs. Low Carb, Vegetable-Rich Diets
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Portugal compared a low-carbohydrate, meat-rich diet to a veggie-rich, low-carb diet that was light on animal protein.
After following 130,000 low carb dieters, both men and women, for twenty years, they found that meat-rich diets that were also low in carbs increased mortality, but a low carbohydrate, vegetable-based diet decreased the risk of heart disease and cancer – particularly heart disease.
In fact, those who ate a meat-based, low carb diet were 23 % more likely to die over twenty years, while people who ate low-carb, but ate more vegetables than meat, were 20% less likely to die.
Why Are Low Carbohydrate, Veggie-Rich Diets Better?
Researchers believe that meat-eating, low-carb dieters get fewer micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) than those who eat a veggie-rich diet. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect cells against cell damage that can lead to cancer. They’re also a good source of fiber, which is important for heart health. Plus, they lack the saturated fat that makes meat such an artery-clogger.
Low Carbohydrate Diets and Mortality: The Bottom Line?
Low-carb diets have garnered a lot of publicity – and some criticism – for their emphasis on eating fat. On the other hand, the benefits and risks depend on the type of low-carb plan a person chooses.
This study suggests that the traditional Atkins low, carbohydrate, meat-rich diet isn’t the best choice, but a low carb diet that’s veggie-rich and light on meat has benefits – both for weight loss and for overall health. Keep this in mind before eating a low-carbohydrate diet – and make the right choice.
Food Navigator website. “Low-carb, high meat diet has high risks: Study”