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Low Carbohydrate-High Protein Diets Pose Serious Health Risks

Low Carbohydrate-High Protein Diets Pose Serious Health Risks

(epharmanews)- If you have ever thought that Atkins diet is a healthy way to lose weight, think again. A new study shows that low carbohydrate, high protein diet is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The unhealthy effects of such diets have previously been studied, but the results were inconsistent. That is why a team of researchers conducted a study on 44,000 Swedish women aged 30 to 49 years and followed those women for fifteen years.

Women completed an extensive dietary and lifestyle questionnaire and diet was measured on the low carbohydrate-high protein (LCHP) score where a score of two would equal very high carbohydrate and low protein consumption through to 20 which would equal very low carbohydrate and high protein consumption.

The results of this study, published online in BMJ, showed an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease with an increasing LCHP score.

“We have found that the lower the carbohydrate and the higher the protein intake, the higher the long term risk for cardiovascular diseases.” Said Dr. Pagona Lagiou, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology at the University of Athens Medical School, to Epharmanews.

Although the additional cases of cardiovascular diseases were relatively few, only 4 to 5 additional cases per 10,000 women per year, but this increase represents 28 percent of the cases.

After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, there was still a significant 5% increase in the likelihood of a cardiovascular event or death with every two point increase in the LCHP score. The 5% increase resulted from a daily decrease of 20g of carbohydrates (equivalent to a small bread roll) and a daily increase of 5g of protein (equivalent to one boiled egg).

Dr. Lagiou told Epharmanews that: “a low carbohydrate diet implies low consumption of wholegrain foods, fruits, and vegetables and consequently reduced intake of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. A high protein diet may indicate higher intake of red and processed meat. These nutritional factors have been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases in epidemiological studies.”

LCHP diets, the most known of which is Atkins diet, are very common. It is acceptable from a nutritional point of view, as long as the additional protein is gained from a vegetarian source such as nuts, and the carbohydrate cut is limited to sweetened beverages and fast food. However, people often violate these rules turning such diets into a serious health risk.

Anna Floegel from the German Institute of Human Nutrition and Tobias Pischon from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany, say that the discrepancy between conclusions from different types of studies in this field “need to be resolved before low carbohydrate-high protein diets can be safely recommended to patients."

In the meantime, they suggest that any benefits gained from these diets in the short-term "seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the long term."

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Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro

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