Diets high in carbohydrates are more likely to cause heart disease than diets high in animal fats, according to a study done for the National Institutes for Health in the United States.
The study used a clinical trial as compared with epidemiological data analysis that has been used to link high-fat diets with heart disease.
The study also found that a low-carbohydrate diet is more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, according to an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The results challenge the perception that low-fat diets are always better for the heart, according to lead author Dr. Lydia Bazzano, professor in nutrition research at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
“Over the years, the message has always been to go low-fat,” Bazzano said in a statement. “Yet we found those on a low-carb diet had significantly greater decreases in estimated 10-year risk for heart disease after six and 12 months than the low-fat group.”
After a year, the low-carb group lost an average of 7.7 pounds more than the low-fat group.
The blood levels of certain fats that are predictors of heart disease risk also improved more in the low-carb group.
While low-density lipoprotein cholesterol for both groups were about the same, the low-carb group saw a spike in so-called “good” HDL cholesterol and a decline in the ratio of bad to good cholesterol.
While the low-carb dieters got 41 percent of their calories from fat, most were healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive or canola oil.
The group got only 13 percent of calories from saturated fats such as butter.
“It’s not a license to go back to the butter, but it does show that even high-fat diets — if they are high in the right fats — can be healthy and help you lose weight,” Bazzano said.