Study: Low-Carb, CHD Unrelated

HSPH researchers find no link between low-carb diet and heart disease

A new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study­—the first to examine the long-term effects of low carbohydrate diets—has found there is no association between such diets and an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).

The study, which appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, relied on data collected from HSPH’s Nurses’ Health Study, a sweeping project which collected data from over 120,000 women starting in 1976.

HSPH researchers also found that there was an association between a lowered risk of heart disease and low-carb diets that were high in vegetable sources of fat and protein.

“We are not recommending a low-carb diet over a low-fat diet,” said Thomas L. Halton, one of the authors of the study.

“The truth of the matter is that neither [is] ideal. Both have good points and bad points.”

According to Halton, carbohydrate and fat sources have a greater impact on the risk of CHD than the quantity of carbohydrates and fat consumed.

“You can take the best of both diets and eliminate the negatives by focusing on vegetable sources of fat and protein and choosing lower glycemic sources of carbohydrates,” said Halton, a former HSPH doctoral student.

Non-dietary factors such as levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as diabetes and exercise, did not appear to impact the relationship between low carb diets and CHD risk.

“We controlled for [those factors] in our analyses so we can say the association between low carb diet and risk of CHD was independent of other risk factors for CHD,” Halton said.