Typically, when asked what sort of eating habits would best help maintain a heart healthy diet, you think about the commonly vilified food groups like fats, sugars, and sodium.

Those are certainly not without their risks.

But a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine has identified a popular weight-loss diet as a potential risk factor for heart health. The study, titled "Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets," found that individuals adhering to low-carbohydrate diets actually had more favorable projections for long-term heart health than another group that was maintaining a low-fat diet.

The study

The experiment, which took place at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, featured 148 participants in good health from varying walks of life.

According to the Guardian Liberty Voice, these individuals were then split into two groups of 74 people and assigned to one of two diet plans. The first group was put on a plan that significantly limited their carbohydrate consumption, bringing it down to only 28 percent of their daily caloric intake.

The second group, whose diet emphasized low-fat eating habits, was allowed to eat up to 45 percent of their caloric intake from carbohydrate sources.

All subjects in both groups were then monitored closely for a period of one year, both by researchers and habitual check-in appointments with doctors affiliated with the study.


Ultimately, the study resulted in the individuals assigned to the low-carbohydrate group losing roughly three times as much weight as those in the low-fat dieting group. The low-carbohydrate participants lost an average of 12 pounds, compared to the low-fat group’s four. There is considerable relevance in these results, as maintaining a healthy weight and normal body mass index can be important in ensuring heart health over time.

Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, was not involved with the study, but indicated that its most valuable conclusion may be that caloric makeup matters far more than calorie count when trying to lose weight. He elaborated on this idea during a recent interview with The New York Times.

"To my knowledge, this is one of the first long-term trials that's given these diets without calorie restrictions. It shows that in a free-living setting, cutting your carbs helps you lose weight without focusing on calories," said Mozaffarian. "And that's really important because someone can change what they eat more easily than trying to cut down on their calories."