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Low-Carb Diet Does Not Change Heart Disease Risk

Moderate reduction when fat and protein come from vegetable sources

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A low-carbohydrate diet does not influence heart disease risk in women, though risk is moderately reduced when fat and protein come from vegetable rather than animal sources, researchers report in the Nov. 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues calculated a low-carbohydrate-diet score from food frequency questionnaires completed by 82,802 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study. The score considers the percentage of energy taken in as fat, carbohydrate and protein.

The researchers found 1,994 cases of coronary heart disease during the 20-year follow-up. There was no significant change in the risk of heart disease when comparing the highest and lowest tenths of the low-carbohydrate-diet score. While there was no significant change in risk based on the percentages of energy from carbohydrate, animal fat and animal protein, there was a significant decrease in risk when the fat and protein came from vegetables (relative risk 0.70, when comparing the highest and lowest tenths of the score).

"Diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein and fat are not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in women," the authors conclude. "When vegetable sources of fat and protein are chosen, these diets may moderately reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

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