Researchers studied 39 men and women who were overweight between April 2005 and November 2006. Some of the subjects adhered to a low carbohydrate vegan diet called the Eco-Atkins diet while some followed a high-carb, low-fat diet over the six month period.
The experts found out that the low-carbohydrate diet helped participants get rid of extra pounds and also lowered their risk of cardiac problems by around 10 percent.
The participants were provided with menu plans that specified food items and its corresponding amounts. Instead of having fixed meals, the menu plans only served as a guide with the participants having a list of equal food alternatives. With interchangeable food choices, the participants were encouraged to adapt the diet to their personal preferences.
"We killed two birds with one stone - or, rather, with one diet. We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both," director of Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Center and professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto Dr. David Jenkins said. "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,"
The Eco-Atkins diet reduced the cholesterol level of the participants by 10 percent. It also helped them lose an average of four pounds more than those who followed the high-carb, low-fat diet in six months. The Eco-Atkins diet is also high in vegetable oils and proteins which reduce the risk of a heart disease through lowering the low-density lipoprotein also known as the bad cholesterol.
The Eco-Atkins diet consists of 43 percent calories from fat, 26 percent from carbohydrates and 31 percent from proteins. Fat sources included vegetable fat from soy products, vegetable oils, avocado and nuts. Carbohydrate sources were from high-fiber foods such as barley and oats and low-starch vegetables including eggplant and okra. Protein sources came from soy, gluten, nuts, cereals and vegetables.
The researchers conclude that a diet that aims to lose weight should reduce carbohydrate for increased vegetable sources of protein including nuts, soy and gluten together with vegetable oils that offer a chance to improve both body weight and LDL cholesterol which are risk factors for a heart disease. Further investigations are needed to evaluate low-carb diets such as those which are more plant-based to better understand heart disease and its risk factors.