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Health risks, benefits of low-carb diets

The numbers on the scale aren't the only important ones.
The numbers on the scale aren't the only important ones.
PicsmaKer, flickr.

While it is becoming increasingly clear that low-carb diets do create a significant difference in weight loss compared to low-fat diets, they are very popular among dieters. The question remains of whether or not these low-carb diets provide any additional health benefits or if they are health risks.

A study, published earlier this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates that the answer to this question is: it depends. By following nearly 130,000 participants for two decades or more, the authors of this study have presented findings that indicate that a low-carb diet can either reduce or increase a person’s risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.

The difference between these two results comes from the remaining content of the diet. While carbohydrates are limited for both styles of diet, some dieters obtain their protein and fat largely from meat sources while others get theirs mostly from vegetable sources. Heavy meat eaters had a significantly increased rate of mortality from cancers and heart disease than average, while those who ate largely vegetable sources of food had a decreased mortality rate.

This research suggests that a low-carb diet coupled with a lowered intake of animal sources of food may help dieters lose weight and improve their overall health.