Study finds moderate carbohydrate diets may be ideal for long-term health

Ebony Scott
August 19, 2018

But the study of 15,400 people, led by Harvard School of Public Health, found eating too many carbs is also damaging to health, the DailyMail reports. The analysis revealed similar trends - participants whose diet consisted of high and low in carbohydrates had shorter life expectancy than those with moderate consumption.

Moderate consumption of carbohydrates (50 to 55 percent of calories) was associated with the lowest risk of early death. What's more, the study only assessed people's diets at two points in time, and it's possible that participants' diets may have changed during the 25-year study, which could have affected the results.

If you are going on a low-carbohydrate diet, better take it easy on the meat, too, experts advised Thursday.

And it raises concerns that the increasingly popular all-or-nothing "exclusion" diets can do severe damage to people's health.

The observational study of more than 15,400 people in the U.S. found that diets both low and high in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers had the lowest risk of mortality.

"Whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality, suggesting that the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality".

Researcher Dr Sara Seidelmann, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said: 'We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection.

To address this uncertainty, researchers began by studying 15,428 adults aged 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds from four USA communities (Forsyth County, NC; Jackson, MS; Minneapolis, MN; and Washington County, MD) enrolled in the ARIC cohort between 1987 and 1989. On the other hand, the same person who consumes a low-carb diet and gets roughly 30% of their calories from carbohydrates could live up to 29.1 more years.

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People who ate significantly more or less carbs than that were more likely to die, according to the study.

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

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

"There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins", said Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, England, commenting on the research, in which he did not take part. When some of the carbohydrate was replaced by proteins and fat from plant sources the risk of dying was found to be lower.

Collins also had an issue with the current belief that low carb diets are good for people with diabetes. Essential nutrients should be consumed above a minimal level to avoid deficiency and below a maximal level to avoid toxicity.

The researchers also analyzed data from more than 432,000 people in more than 20 countries and found that those with high and low carbohydrate intake had shorter life expectancy than those with moderate carbohydrate intake.

Dr Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, said: "The national dietary guidelines for the United Kingdom, which are based on the findings of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, recommend that carbohydrates should account for 50% of total dietary energy intake".

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