Low carb has more positive cholesterol impact than low fat, scientists suggest

Eating low carb has been shown to have more positive effects on cholesterol levels than eating low fat, a new analysis reveals.

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UK scientists found that carbohydrate restriction had a positive impact on high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol, and on plasma triglycerides (blood fats).

Low carb had no significant impact on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol after six, 12 and 24 months, but as low carb improved the other markers, this denotes an overall improvement in the balance of HDL to LDL cholesterol.

The findings add to a body of growing evidence showing how low carb has benefits for a variety of health markers. Meanwhile, low fat, which has been recommended in nutritional guidelines for decades, is being shown to impact the body less positively than low carb.

“Large randomized controlled trials of at least six months duration with carbohydrate restriction appear superior in improving lipid markers when compared with low-fat diets,” said the Liverpool John Moores University researchers.

“Dietary guidelines should consider carbohydrate restriction as an alternative dietary strategy for the prevention/management of dyslipidemia for populations with cardiometabolic risk.”

The scientists had investigated how varying levels of carbohydrate restriction (very low, low and moderate) compared with higher fat diets, as well higher carb diets and low fat diets.

A total of 1,633 overweight participants were randomised to one of the interventions for up to six months. Eight randomised controlled trials were included in the meta-analysis.

The participants were followed up at six, 12 and 24 months and had their HDL, LDL and triglycerides assessed, with the researchers concluding that the “favourable changes were more marked in the subgroup with very low carbohydrate content”.

The findings have been published online in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

Editor’s note: Diabetes.co.uk has long championed eating a healthy, real-food diet for people with diabetes to improve their health. On our award-winning Low Carb Program, people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes have been able to put the conditions into remission and come off all their diabetes medication.

Thanks to Jack Woodfield for this text.


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