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On a low-carb diet? You may live longer if you make it vegetable-based

September 06, 2010
  • A vegetable-based diet was associated with a lower mortality rate and a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.
A vegetable-based diet was associated with a lower mortality rate and a… (David Karp )

If you're thinking of jumping on the low-carb diet bandwagon or have already jumped, consider this: new research findings reveal that vegetable-based low-carb diets may be linked with lower overall mortality rates and lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study used data from the Nurses' Health study and included 85,168 women age 34 to 59 and 44,548 men age 40 to 75 who were on low-carb diets that derived protein from animal or plant sources. The women were followed from 1980 to to 2006, and the men from 1986 to 2006. In those years 12,555 of the participants died.

Among those who ate an animal-based diet, researchers noted a slight but statistically significant higher overall mortality risk. An animal-based diet was also linked with higher risk of death from cancer. A vegetable-based diet was associated with a lower mortality rate and a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

The authors believe that the link between cardiovascular death in vegetable-based diets may be attributed to benefits from eating more unsaturated fats, dietary fiber and micronutrients, vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals.

In the end, protein sources may make a difference. In the study, they wrote, "Low-carbohydrate diets from animal and vegetable sources may have similar major macronutrient content, but the source of the macronutrients can result in large differences in dietary components that may affect mortality, such as specific fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals. Therefore, the associations that we observed are more likely to be mediated by these bioactive components rather the carbohydrate content."

The study was released Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

 -Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times

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