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Low carb vegan diet prevents heart disease, accelerates weight loss

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As the popularity of the Paleo diet and low-carb weight loss plans continue to escalate, some may wonder if the vegan plant-based way of life has lost some of its luster when it comes to its merits. Now a new study offers plant-based dieters a way to win at weight loss while reducing their risk of heart disease, reported Consumer Affairs on Friday.

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital say that combining low carb diet protocols with vegan food plans both promoted weight loss while lowering the risk of heart disease by 10 per cent over 10 years. Known as Eco-Atkins, this low carbohydrate vegan diet lowers "bad cholesterol" because of its emphasis on vegetable proteins and oils, said the researchers.

"We killed two birds with one stone – or, rather, with one diet," said the vegan lead author Dr. David Jenkins, a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."

Compared to higher carbohydrate diets that are lower in fat and protein, participants in the study lot four pounds more while reducing their bad cholesterol by 10 percent. "We could expect similar results in the real world because study participants selected their own diets and were able to adjust to their needs and preferences," said Dr. Jenkins.

So what do you eat on a vegan low-carb diet? Soy, vegetables, nuts, oats, barley, vegetable oils and avocado, as well as low-starch vegetables. The percentages for the Eco-Atkins consisted of 26 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, 31 per cent from proteins and 43 per cent from fat.

Although the Atkins diet often is associated only with animal protein and enormous platters of bacon, steak and eggs, the Eco-Atkins twist on the plan has existed for several years. "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great" specifically devotes several sections to vegetarians.

However, this new study provides an intriguing twist in the ongoing debate about what constitutes the best diet. And ironically, at the same time as the release of this vegan-centric research, comes a new low-carb diet book based on eight years of research defending the consumption of animal protein and saturated fats.

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, author of "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," contends that the traditional food guidelines advising minimal saturated fats and generous amounts of protein have resulted in skyrocketing rates of obesity. In an interview with the Fiscal Times, she challenged the conventional food pyramid.

"Our fear of saturated fats in animal foods – butter, eggs, meat – has never been based in solid science. A bias against these foods developed early on and became entrenched, though the evidence never amounted to a convincing case. And it’s since crumbled away," she added.

Nina's not alone in this view. A recent study shows that in addition to promoting weight loss, low-carb diets reduce inflammation for those with type 2 diabetes, report researchers at the Linkoping University, Sweden.

It's just one of many studies indicating that "advising an obese diabetic patient to reduce their carb intake consistently produces better results than advising them to follow a low fat, calorie restricted diet," notes Bill Lagakos, author of "The poor, misunderstood calorie: calories proper." With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology with a focus on obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance, he's become one of the most well-versed experts in surfacing studies showing that high carb diets suffer when compared to the multiple benefits of low carb weight loss plans.

"Nutritional ketosis is a normal, physiological response to carbohydrate and energy restriction. A ketogenic diet is an effective weight loss strategy for many," says Bill. "Ketogenic dieting is safe, and can be beneficial." And although some confuse nutritional ketosis with ketoacidosis, in reality "there are numerous examples showing ketogenic diets are safe for type 1 diabetics, suggesting the diet itself is not the major precipitating factor. In fact, some type 1 diabetics do quite well on ketogenic diets."

In addition, other studies have demonstrated that low-carb diets trump low-fat diets when it comes to lowering levels of inflammation. What's the significance of inflammation in the body? The National Library of Medicine contains multiple studies showing the link between inflammation and age-related diseases including cancer, dementia, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, vascular diseases and obesity.

Physician Dr. Terry Wahls is currently conducting additional research on another potential use for these food plans based on her experience using a Paleo-style ketogenic high fat low carb diet for multiple sclerosis. She documents her success with her own condition in "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine."

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