Low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk and weight

May 22, 2014, St. Michael's Hospital
Heart diagram. Credit: Wikipedia

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital have shown for the first time that, in addition to weight loss, a specific low-carbohydrate diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease by 10 per cent over 10 years.

The , often called Eco-Atkins, is a low-carbohydrate . Many low-carbohydrate diets have been proven to improve but most emphasize eating animal proteins and fats, which may raise cholesterol. Diets that are high in vegetable proteins and oils may reduce the risk of by lowering "bad cholesterol."

"We killed two birds with one stone – or, rather, with one diet," explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."

The findings, which were published in British Medical Journal Open, compared Eco-Atkins to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. The Eco-Atkins diet reduced cholesterol by 10 per cent while also helping participants lose an average of four more pounds than the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet over six months.

"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," said Dr. Jenkins, who is a vegan.

Participants were given menu plans that outlined food items and amounts. Rather than requiring fixed meals, the menus served as a reference guide and participants were given a list of suitable food alternatives. With an exchange list of interchangeable food items, participants were better able to adapt the diet to their personal tastes – which helped to encourage adherence to the diet.

Twenty-three obese men and women completed the six-month diet. Participants were encouraged to eat only 60 per cent of their estimated caloric requirements – the amount of calories that should be consumed daily to maintain their current weight.

Eco-Atkins participants aimed for a balance of 26 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, 31 per cent from proteins and 43 per cent from fat – coming primarily .

Carbohydrate sources included high-fibre foods such as oats and barley and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Proteins came from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Predominant fat sources for the Eco-Atkins diet were nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado.

Explore further: Low-carbohydrate diet reduced inflammation

Related Stories

Low-carbohydrate diet reduced inflammation

May 8, 2014
A low-carbohydrate diet, but not a low-fat diet, reduces inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research at Linköping University in Sweden.

Do low-carb diets damage the kidneys?

May 31, 2012
Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets—like the Atkins diet—have been popular among dieters for years. For just as long, experts have worried that such diets might be harmful to the kidneys. A study appearing in an ...

Mediterranean diet without breakfast the best choice for diabetics, new study says

November 29, 2013
For patients with diabetes, it is better to eat a single large meal than several smaller meals throughout the day. This is the result of a current dietary study at Linköping University in Sweden.

Local study to examine paleo diet for protective effects

April 22, 2014
Potentially groundbreaking research comparing palaeolithic and traditional healthy diets is the focus of a new Edith Cowan University study investigating whether the paleo diet can help protect against heart disease and diabetes.

Experts say paleo diet is worst, DASH diet is best

January 8, 2014
(HealthDay)—The controversial Paleo Diet was last on the 2014 "Best Diets List" from U.S. News & World Report, while the DASH plan was named the best overall diet.

Recommended for you

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

Place of residence linked to heart failure risk

January 9, 2018
Location. Location. Location.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.