Harvard study found that men and women eating low carb diets live significantly shorter lives, but what about the “eco-Atkins diet,” a plant-based low carbohydrate diet?
Image thanks to Stacy Spensley
This was a pretty dramatic case report, but it was just one person. Recently, researchers at Harvard decided to look at 100,000 people: "Low-carb diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality". They found that low-carb diets were associated with higher all-cause mortality, higher cardiovascular disease mortality, and higher cancer mortality. The final nail in Atkins' coffin. Men and women on low-carb diets lead significantly shorter lives: more cancer deaths, more heart attacks.
Sure, you may lose some weight, but the only way we may be able to enjoy it is with a skinnier casket. But wait! In 2009, some enterprising researchers came up with a plant-based low-carb diet; the so-called "Eco-Atkins diet". They figured that, maybe the problem with the Atkins diet wasn't that it was high-fat high-protein, but that it was high animal fat, animal protein. So they constructed a vegan version of the Atkins diet. How is that possible? Well, lots of mock meats, seitan, soy burgers, veggie bacon, veggie cold cuts, veggie sausage, tofu, lot of nuts, avocado, etc.
How did they do? Pretty good, actually. Instead of their bad cholesterol going up, like it does on a meat-based Atkins, after just two weeks on the plant-based, low-carb diet, their LDL was down more than 20%. Now the whole study only lasted a month, though, so you couldn't really make any generalizations, but it was intriguing enough that when the data was run at Harvard, they picked out the people eating plant-based low-carb diets to see if they suffered the same low-carb fate. That's the nice thing about doing dietary studies on 100,000 people at a time: you can find people eating just about anything.
What do you think they found? This line represents the mortality rate of the typical diet. And this is what they found for people following more of an Atkins-style low-carb diet: significantly higher risk of death.
But what do you think they found for those following a plant-based low-carb diet? Do they suffer the same crazy mortality as the Atkins people? Or maybe they didn't do that bad, but still had more mortality than those eating regular diets. Or did they have the same, or lower mortality? They had lower mortality.
They concluded: "A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates." So it appears, what matters really isn't the ratio of fat to carbs to protein, but rather, the source: whether they're coming from plants or animals.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.
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