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Low-Carb Vegan Diet can Reduce Heart Disease Risk by 10 Percent

Update Date: May 28, 2014 11:19 AM EDT

People at risk of heart disease can take preventive measures by eating a healthier diet. According to a new study, researchers found that adopting a vegan diet low in carbohydrates can reduce one's risk of heart disease by 10 percent while slimming down the waistline as well.

"We killed two birds with one stone - or, rather, with one diet," said Dr. David Jenkins, the director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Center and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto, reported by Canada Journal. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."

In this study, the researchers recruited 23 obese participants who followed the low-carb vegan diet plan, called the Eco-Atkins diet, for six months. The Eco-Atkins diet consisted of 26 percent calories from carbs, 31 percent from proteins and 42 percent from fat. The carbohydrate options were mostly oats, barley and low-starch vegetables, which included okra and eggplant. Protein was mostly sourced from gluten, soy, vegetables and nuts whereas fats came primarily from vegetable oils.

The researchers had created menus that instructed the participants about what and how much they could eat. There was also an exchange list that taught participants how to replace certain foods with better options. The open menu provided the participants with more freedom to choose and design a diet that they liked as opposed to following a diet created by the researchers.

The participants were also recommended to intake only 60 percent of their daily caloric requirement, which is the estimated amount of calories one should eat per day based on personal weight. During the study, the participants lost four pounds and had a 10 percent reduced risk of heart disease when compared to people who followed a high-carb, low-fat diet.

"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, who is a vegan.

The study, "Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate ('Eco-Atkins') diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomized controlled trial," was published in the British Medical Journal Open.

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