A diet low in calories and carbohydrates but high in plant-based proteins may promote weight loss and improve cholesterol levels, according to study.
In the study, researchers found that overweight individuals who ate such a diet for four weeks lost weight
and experienced improvements in blood cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors.
They found that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat vegetarian diet also resulted in weight loss but without the additional cardiovascular benefits.
David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues tested the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet high in vegetable proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals and vegetable oils among overweight men and women with high LDL cholesterol levels.
A total of 25 participants were randomly assigned to consume this diet—the “Eco-Atkins” diet—for four weeks, while an additional 25 participants ate a control diet that was high-carbohydrate, lacto-ovo vegetarian and based on low-fat dairy and whole grain products. Study food was provided to participants at 60 percent of their estimated calorie requirements.
Of the 47 participants who began the study, 44 (22 in each group) completed the four-week period.
The researchers found that weight loss was similar—about 4 kilograms or 8.8 pounds—in both groups bit reductions in LDL-C levels and improvements in the ratios between total cholesterol and HDL-C were greater for the low-carbohydrate diet compared with the high-carbohydrate diet.
The low-carbohydrate diet also appeared to produce beneficial changes in levels and ratios of apolipoproteins, proteins that bind to fats.
In addition, small but significantly greater reductions were seen in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for the low-carbohydrate vs. the high-carbohydrate group.
The researchers concluded that pending answers to important questions, including whether further reducing carbohydrate intake would produce additional benefits, “a plant-based low-carbohydrate diet high in vegetable proteins and oils may be an effective option in treating those with dyslipidemia for whom both weight loss and lower LDL-C concentrations are treatment goals.”