A new report from the Nurses Health Study, a long-term observational study out of Harvard, concluded that low-carb diets aren’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. In fact, eating a diet higher in animal protein and animal fat didn’t seem to significantly affect cardiovascular risk. And, cardiovascular risk was significantly decreased among women with a high intake of vegetable protein and vegetable fat.
Remember all the talk about the glycemic index, which leads to the discussion of good carbs/bad carbs? The study reported that
A higher glycemic load was strongly associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (relative risk comparing highest and lowest deciles, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.15 to 3.15; P for trend=0.003).
I had to quote that data. It means, basically, that the more processed the carb, the higher the heart disease risk.
And another interesting point is that these women were actually slightly overweight at the start of the study, and gained about another 10% of their weight over the years. So, these women weren’t necessarily on a weight-loss mission [although, I suspect that, like so many of us, they were trying to control their weight, but weren’t always successful].
Now, let’s be honest here. There are some limitations of this study, including the fact that the population consists almost exclusively of middle-aged and older women, and we have no idea just how honest they were in their surveys. So, we don’t know if this applies to children or to men. However, as we middle-aged women try to manage our weight by whatever means possible, perhaps we’re not doing as much damage to our bodies as we thought by watching the carb intake.
My take-away from this is that what I’ve been trying to do – higher protein, good quality carbs, more olive oil than butter – makes sense, at least in terms of taking care of my heart. I’m not doing it perfectly [chocolate cake last night, although maybe I shouldn’t admit it?], but I’m working on it.
As for eating to lose weight or to maintain my weight, well, one more time – let’s say it together – portion control, exercise.