A low carb diet could shorten your lifespan, new research suggests

Ciara Sheppard
Contributor Yahoo Style UK

Pasta, potatoes and bread may be delicious, but they’re often best avoided when attempting a diet. At least that’s what we’ve been lead to believe.

Popular diets like Atkins swear by cutting out the starchy goodness altogether for effective weight loss. But according to new research, cutting down on carbs might impact your life span.

“These findings bring together several strands that have been controversial,” Professor Walter Willett,  co-author of the new study, said.

“Too much and too little carbohydrate can be harmful but what counts most is the type of fat, protein, and carbohydrate.”

Cutting out foods like pasta altogether might not be the solution. [Photo: Getty]

The US study – published in The Lancet Public Health – conducted over 25 years showed that moderate carb consumption is far healthier than saying no to carbs full stop.

The diets of 15,400 participants in the US were analysed to estimate how many calories they got from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

After a 25-year study, scientists found that those who got 50-55 per cent of their energy from carbohydrates (this counts as ‘moderate carb intake’ as per health guidelines) had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups.

Researchers estimated that people in the moderate carb group were on average expected to live for another 33 years from the age of 50, reports the BBC.

Broken down the results were:

  • four years more than people who got 30 per cent or less of their energy from carbs (extra-low-carb group)
  • 2.3 years more than the 30-40 per cent (low-carb) group
  • 1.1 years more than the 65 per cent or more (high-carb) group

Dr Sara Seidelmann, a cardiology specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who led the research, said Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy.

Photo: Getty

“However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged,” she said.

“Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.”

Of course, this is just one study, and lots more research would have to be done to conclude that loading up on carbs is better that cutting them out altogether.

But for now, let’s all enjoy a bowl of pasta while feeling we’re lengthening our lifespan in the process.

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