Cardiometabolic diseases include cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack, stroke, angina, and metabolic conditions like insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Over the years, low-fat diets have been embraced due to their health effects. But emerging evidence shows that low-carb diets may be just as effective. Recent research has suggested that low-carb diets have been shown to improve cardiometabolic risk profile.
Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb
In the last 50 years, the medical community has encouraged low-fat diets to avoid the effects of saturated fats on the heart. So low-fat and fat-free foods have been majorly circulating on the grocery shelves; however, many of these foods happen to be high in processed carbs.
However, recently many studies and healthcare professionals have been challenging this thought process. This has led to the emergence of the ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high-fat diet, restricting intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, candies, and sweets.
Some versions may also limit healthy carb sources, such as grains, starchy vegetables, high-carb fruits, pasta, and legumes.
Other than helping with weight loss, low-carb diets increase good cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar levels, lower triglyceride levels, and keep your metabolism in control.
Please note: Some harmful effects like fatigue, kidney stones, headache, loss in muscle tissue have been reported with low-carb diets. Consult a qualified nutritionist before making any significant dietary changes.
Low-Carb Diets May Lower Risk of Cardiometabolic Disease Risk: A New Study
The Boston Children's Hospital led a large clinical trial to examine the effects of a low-carb diet on cardiometabolic disease risk.
The study included 164 adults who were overweight or obese. The participants had already lost 10-14 percent of their body weight by undergoing a reduced-calorie diet.
The participants were randomly assigned one of these three diets:
- Low-carb diet (20% carbs, 60% fat, 20% protein)
- Moderate-carb diet (40% carbs, 40% fat, 20% protein)
- High-carb diet (60% carbs, 20% fat, 20% protein)
The participants received their customized meals, thus ensuring that all of them rigidly followed the protocol.
In all the prepared meals, saturated fats comprised 35% of the total fat present. In the low-carb meal, saturated fat contributed to 21% of the calories, and in the high-carb meal, it contributed to 7% of the calories.
Compared to the lower-fat higher-carb diets, the low-carb diet had the following benefits:
- Improved blood lipids range related to cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance
- Increased levels of adiponectin - the hormone that promotes insulin sensitivity
- Reduced the risk of atherosclerosis (caused by plaque build up inside arteries)
- Reduced lipoprotein (protein and fat-containing substances that carry cholesterol through your bloodstream) levels
Though this study was done on adults, the researchers say that low-carb diets may benefit children too. In fact, pediatric cardiologists are also starting to embrace low-carb diets.
Tips To Follow Low-Carb Diet
- Limit starchy vegetables, soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream, and other products that contain added sugar
- Include low-carb snacks like hard-boiled eggs, unsweetened yogurt, baby or regular carrots, and a handful of nuts in between the meals
- Substitute of taco shells with lettuce leaves, buns with portobello mushroom caps, noodles with spaghetti squash, pasta with zucchini ribbons
- Cardiometabolic risk factors are a group of conditions that often occur together and are a significant cause of heart diseases.
- Low-carb diets like ketogenic diets aid weight loss, reduce triglyceride and blood sugar levels, and help maintain a healthy metabolism.
- A study reported that a low-carb diet was more beneficial in terms of lowering the risk of cardiometabolic diseases than low-fat diets.