For years, low-carb diets has been passionately promoted for weight loss and in reducing the risk of mortality in global populations. However, there lacks data analyzing the role of the portion of carbohydrate consumed on various health parameters. In an observational study that seems to be the most comprehensive in nature looked this aspect on respondents spanning several cohort populations. The study notably included a vital parameter—the source of proteins and fats in these low-carb diets. The study conducted by Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) in the U.S. has thrown some interesting observations. The most intriguing of these is that sticking to a diet with moderate amount of carbohydrates, in contrast to general belief, may promote health and longevity.
The study found that those on a diet with moderate amount of carbohydrate, that is 50-55% of energy, had the lowest risk to mortality than on low and high portion of carbohydrate respectively amounting to less than 40% energy and more than 70% of energy. The data of the study was assessed from the dietary habits and patterns of more than 15,400 respondents confirmed from as many as four diverse socio-economic background.
Source of Protein Equally Important Health Parameter in Low-carb Diets
The researchers went further in their quest for finding healthy compounds in the diet that have favorable impact of cardiovascular outcomes and overall mortality. To this end, they looked upon the source or quality of protein or fats in the low-carb diet. They found that if these proteins come from animal-based sources, as is prevalent in populations of North America and Europe, may increase the mortality risk. Instead they suggested to include more plant-based proteins and diets to promote longevity.
Western Diets with more Animal-based Proteins and Fats Discouraged
To put the findings in perspectives, the study revealed that adults with age 50 and above the average life expectancy was estimated four year longer in people who consumed moderate carbohydrate in diets than in those with a high proportion. Similar trends were observed when the researchers extended the study by making meta-analysis in as many as eight cohorts wherein the carbohydrate intake of 432,179 people was analyzed. These were taken from various countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.
The study went on over six years and the data were self-reported, a fact that accounts to its limitations. Moreover, respondents who take low-carb diets with plant-based proteins and fats were insufficient in numbers.
The findings of the work is published online on August 2018 issue of The Lancet Public Health journal.