Low carb diets not linked to risks of atherosclerosis, US study reports

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 17 Jan 2019
Low carb diets not linked to risks of atherosclerosis, US study reports
Low carb diets are not associated with a predictor of cardiovascular events called coronary artery calcium (CAC), scientists report.

CAC is a build of calcium in the arteries of the heart which increases the risk of atherosclerosis (blood vessel narrowing) and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

The findings remained significant irrespective of the sources of protein and fat consumed by people in the trial who ate low carb.

Atherosclerosis is the one of the most common diabetes-related heart disease complications, and understanding predictors of cardiovascular events is important to lower this risk among at-risk groups, such as people with diabetes.

This US research assessed CAC risk scores from people who participated in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and how the findings were related to low carb diet patterns.

A total of 5,614 men and women were analysed, none of whom had cardiovascular disease in 2000, before the study began. All the participants filled in a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary intake.

Animal-based and plant-based low carb diet scores were calculated based on overall macronutrient intake, before the researchers cross-examined relationships between low carb diet scores and cardiovascular risk factors.

Findings were adjusted for diabetes status, history of high blood pressure, cholesterol, age, sex and race, plus health markers.

When the median increases over 59 months (nearly five years) were examined, animal-based and plant-based low carb diets, regardless of the sources of protein and fat were not associated with atherosclerosis incidence and progression.

The findings demonstrate evidence of long-term safety of low carb diets for heart and cardiovascular health. Dr David Unwin, a Southport GP and 2016 Innovator of the Year, has spoken of low carb's heart benefits, which include lower LDL cholesterol.

Visit our multi-award winning Low Carb Program, which was accepted into the NHS apps library earlier this month, for more information on how restricting carbohydrate intake and eating a healthy real-food diet can improve health and mood.

The US study findings have been published online in The British Journal of Nutrition.
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