Surprising study findings from researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine suggest that not only is a low-carbohydrate diet effective for weight loss in women, it may also help reduce the risk of heart disease.
The year-long study compared four weight loss diets in 311 overweight women.
Researchers assigned the women, aged 25 to 50, to one of four weight loss diets, ranging from low carbohydrate to high carbohydrate; including the Atkins diet (low carbohydrate), the Zone diet (moderate-carbohydrate), LEARN diet (high-carbohydrate) or Ornish diet (very high-carbohydrate).
Low-carbohydrate diets emphasize meat and cheese and limit whole grains and fruits.
After 12 months of following the diets, researchers found that the low-carbohydrate (Atkins) diet was the most effective in terms of weight loss. The average weight loss was 10.3 pounds in the Atkins group, 3.5 pounds in the Zone group, 5.7 pounds in the LEARN group and 4.8 pounds in the Ornish group.
In terms of heart health, participants who followed the Atkins diet had the greatest improvements in HDL (good) cholesterol and blood pressure.
While these findings seem to go against current health and nutrition advice, further studies are needed to examine the long-term effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets.
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