The diet, most commonly referred to as the Eco-Atkins diet, has been found to most effective in managing weight loss and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent over ten years. The diet is high in vegetable proteins and oils and reduces the LDL cholesterol in the body, the number one contributing factor to heart disease. Carbohydrate sources included high-fibre foods such as oats and barley and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Proteins came from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Predominant fat sources for the Eco-Atkins diet were nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado.
A new study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, compared the effects of the Eco-Atkins diet compared to a high carbohydrate, low-fat diet. The research participants consisting of twenty three obese men and women took part in a six months diet and were provided with detailed menu plans that outlined food items and amounts.
“We killed two birds with one stone or, rather, with one diet,” explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital and 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.”
“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.
Another study, published in the Annals of Medicine by Linköping University in Sweden, has revealed that a low-carbohydrate diet reduces the level of inflammation in the body of type 2 diabetes patients.
Previous studies have revealed that patients with type 2 diabetes have a higher level of inflammation in their body contributing to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other health associated problems.
Sixty one patients with type 2 diabetes took part in a clinical trial at Linköping University, conducted over two years, consisting of consuming a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a traditional low-fat diet. Prior to taking part in the study diabetic patients had higher inflammatory markers at baseline. The patients were examined 6 months after the start of the study, revealing that the level of inflammation in the low carbohydrate diet was significantly reduced. The weight loss in both groups was the same.
The study results confirm the results of a larger study involving 2330 diabetic participants, conducted at the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy. A total of 22,295 participants were actively followed for 11 years.
To assess dietary habits, all participants completed a questionnaire, and the researchers constructed a 10-point Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and a similar scale to measure the available carbohydrate (or glycaemic load [GL]) of the diet.
The findings reflect that people with an Mediterranean diet score over 6 were 12% less likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest MDS of 3 or under. Patients with the highest available carbohydrate in their diet were 21% more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest. A high MDS combined with low available carbohydrate reduced the chances of developing diabetes by 20% as compared with a diet low in MDS and high in GL.
Lena Jonasson, Hans Guldbrand, Anna K. Lundberg, Fredrik H. Nystrom. Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet. Annals of Medicine, 2014; 46 (3): 182 DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2014.894286
Diabetologia. “Both a Mediterranean diet and diets low in available carbohydrates protect against type 2 diabetes, study suggests.”
St. Michael’s Hospital. “Low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk, weight.”