Scientists from the University of Toronto found that a low-carb vegan diet may help reduce heart disease risk.
A vegan or plant-based diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs.
When people follow it correctly, a vegan diet can be highly nutritious, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and aid weight loss.
Previous research has found that low-carbohydrate diets may be useful for weight loss. Diets high in vegetable proteins and oils may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
In the current study, researchers aimed to determine the long-term benefit of a diet that was both low-carbohydrate and plant-based on weight loss and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).
LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
The team tested 39 overweight men and women who had high cholesterol levels.
Participants were advised to eat either a low-carbohydrate vegan diet or a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for 6 months.
A lacto-ovo vegetarian eating pattern is based on grains, fruits, and vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), seeds, nuts, dairy products, and eggs. It excludes meat, fish, and poultry or products containing these foods.
A total of 23 participants completed the 6-month study.
The team found people who ate a low-carbohydrate vegan diet lost 6.9 kg of body weight, while people on a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet lost 5.8 kg of body weight.
Moreover, the LDL-C and triglyceride reductions were also greater in the low-carbohydrate vegan diet group.
Triglycerides are a common type of fat that accounts for about 95 percent of all dietary fats. Both animal and vegetable fats contain triglycerides.
Once digested, triglycerides circulate in the bloodstream to be used as energy by the cells. Any leftovers are stored in body fat to fuel the body between meals.
If you regularly eat more kilojoules than you burn, you will be overweight or obese and may have raised triglyceride levels circulating in your blood.
High blood triglycerides are linked with an increased risk of health conditions including heart disease. High triglycerides are also known as hypertriglyceridemia.
The researchers concluded that a self-selected low-carbohydrate vegan diet, containing protein and fat from gluten and soy products, nuts, and vegetable oils could help lower blood cholesterol more effectively than a high-carbohydrate, low-fat weight loss diet.
Therefore, the low-carbohydrate vegan diet may help reduce heart disease risk.
The research is published in BMJ Open and was conducted by David J A Jenkins et al.
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