So what’s the best diet to prevent heart disease? As it turns out, a low-carbohydrate diet could be your best bet–but there’s a catch.
According to new research from the British Medical Journal Open, people who adopted an “Eco-Atkins” diet, or a low-carbohydrate diet that was also vegan, lowered their risk of heart disease by as much as 10 percent over a 10 year time span. In addition, they lost an average of four more pounds than those who ate a high-carbohydrate diet–probably because vegan foods contain fewer calories.
Admittedly, it’s not an easy diet, but researchers say it’s one all people should follow.
“We killed two birds with one stone–or, rather, with one diet,” says Dr. David Jenkins, director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada. “We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both.”
Recruiting a total of 23 obese men and women, some of the participants followed the Eco-Atkins diet for 6 months, where they were told to only consume 60 percent of their daily caloric requirements–about the same amount needed to maintain their weight. During this time, they were also given meal plans to help them create appropriate meals for the diet, which needed to be vegan, low-carbohydrate, and preferably low in calories.
The other participants in the study served as the control, however, eating a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.
Before and after the study, their cholesterol levels were also measured to determine their risk of developing heart disease in the future.
And the result? Good news for Eco-Atkins dieters–their bad cholesterol levels were the lowest, reducing their risk of heart disease by as much as 10 percent.
“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,” says Jenkins.
Following the diet isn’t necessarily complicated either, admit researchers. Eco-Atkins dieters usually stick to oats, barley, and low-starch vegetables as their main carbohydrate source, supplemented with proteins and fats such as tofu, nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils. Better yet, these foods also carry plenty of antioxidants as well, which some experts believe may lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
So if you’re looking for an easy way to slim down while reducing your risk of heart disease, go vegan–and watch your carbohydrate intake.
“We conclude that a weight loss diet which reduced carbohydrate in exchange for increased intakes of vegetable sources of protein, such as gluten, soy and nuts, together with vegetable oils offers an opportunity to improve both LDL-C [bad cholesterol] and body weight, both being risk factors for CHD,” write researchers in the online version of the British Medical Journal Open.
What This Means For You
Want to reduce your heart disease risk by as much as 10 percent? Going vegan–and keeping your carbohydrate intake low–could be the key to fighting off this disease for up to 10 years, reveal researchers.
Readers: Have you changed your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease before?
Low-Carb Vegan Diet May Reduce Heart Disease Risk, Weight – ScienceDaily.com
Effect of a 6-Month Vegan Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Body Weight (Study) – BMJ.com