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Carbs are good for you, Harvard study finds

19 August 2018

The study concluded that eating a moderate amount of carbohydrates is best for a healthy lifespan.

The authors speculate that Western-type diets that restrict carbohydrates often result in lower intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains and lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats, which have been linked to inflammation and ageing in the body. The most popular diets such as Atkins are said to be so promising for the weight loss and preventing some of the diseases but now the fact comes from a U.S. study that if you are going to switch the meat-based meal with plant-based meal, that is comparatively more healthy. They looked at 15,428 adults ages 45-64 years in four different communities in the USA between 1987 and 1989.

The study, which involved more than 15,000 Americans who were tracked for a quarter of a century, found that those who ate a low-carb diet (with less than 40 percent of daily calories coming from carbs) or a high-carb diet (with more than 70 percent of daily calories coming from carbs) were more likely to die during the study period, compared with those who ate a moderate-carb diet, with about 50 to 55 percent of their calories coming from carbs.

"Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy", said Dr Sara Seidelmann, a clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women's Hospital inBoston, who led the research published in the Lancet public health journal.

Replacing meat with plant-based fats (such as avocados and nuts) and proteins (such as soy products and lentils) reduces the risk of mortality, Seidelmann and her team found. They conducted a meta-analysis of studies on carbohydrate intake including more than 432,000 people from over 20 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

The group of people who had negative consequences from eating too many carbs were mostly found in some countries with lower economic status. According to a 25-year-long study, individuals whose diets were either low or high in carbohydrates had a higher risk of death than those who consumed a moderate amount of carbs. The analysis revealed similar trends - participants whose diet consisted of high and low in carbohydrates had shorter life expectancy than those with moderate consumption.

During a median follow-up of 25 years, 6,283 people died. Therefore, the results of the study may not be relevant to people who are following stricter low carb or ketogenic diets.

"What is crucial to understand is that consuming refined carbohydrates in excess, from foods such as white rice, bread, pasta and of course sugar is harmful".

Co-author Prof Walter Willett, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Us, said: "These findings bring together several strands that have been controversial".

But it wasn't all bad news for people following low-carb diets.

Even people who had high intakes were better off than those who drastically cut out carbohydrates.

"There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins", said Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, England, commenting on the research, in which he did not take part.

The questionnaires relied upon people remembering what they ate, and it is this information that scientists used to estimate the proportion of calories they received from carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Carbs are good for you, Harvard study finds