People often start a diet in order to lose weight, reduce their cholesterol levels and maintain good health. Diets that are low in fat consumption are in general perceived as the most beneficial for optimal weight control and reduction of cardiovascular risk. However, a very recently published article comes to abolish this theory.
According to this study, 148 individuals without previous history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease were randomized into either low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet.
After one year of observation, a significant weight reduction was identified in the low-carbohydrate diet group (mean reduction 3.5 Kg). Also, the same group demonstrated a significant reduction of CRP, which is known to be a marker of inflammation that is positively correlated with the risk of cardiovascular events. Arterial pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels were similar in both groups.
Diets with low consumption of carbohydrates were initially introduced in the 70s (Atkins diet). However many people argued about the beneficial effect of this particular form of diet. In fact, it was suggested to increase the cardiovascular risk despite reduction of body weight.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and constitute a significant proportion of our daily meals (bread, cereals, potatoes, rise, pasta and fruits). Complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread and starchy vegetables) are those that require specific process and sugar is slowly digested and absorbed. Simple carbohydrates (table sugar, soft drinks, candy and white bread) are established to have a low nutritional value and cause an accumulation of fat in the body.
As a conclusion, a diet with a low consumption of carbohydrates is established to produce a significant reduction in body weight without the previous deleterious effects that were previously suggested. However, more research and a longer follow-up are required in order to safely apply such a notion in our everyday life.
Annals of Internal Medicine
Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial