DASH Diet Better with Less Carbohydrate

November 17, 2005 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

Score one more for controlled-carb nutrition!

Forbes today reported research findings that show that two carbohydrate-restricted versions of the government’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertention (DASH) Diet had beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and long-term cardiovascular risk.

The new diet shifts about 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates to either protein-rich foods or to monounsaturated fats such as olive or canola oil.

“This is a modified version of the old diet,” [Dr. Frank] Sacks explained. “The DASH diet was a real breakthrough for lowering blood pressure and we changed it. We reduced the carbohydrate content and replaced it with unsaturated fat or protein, and it lowered blood pressure more and improved lipids, and overall cardiovascular risk goes down.”

For this study, 164 adults aged 30 and older with elevated blood pressure were assigned to one of three diets: one in which carbohydrates represented 55 percent of calories (close to the original DASH diet); one that shifted 10 percent of carbohydrate calories to protein (about two-thirds from plant sources and the rest from chicken and egg whites); and one that shifted 10 percent of calories to unsaturated fat, mostly olive or canola oils.

What the researchers found was that all participants had some improvements – but those following the diet that reduced carbohydrate saw significantly better improvement. What’s more – those on the controlled-carb regiments reduced their cardiovascular risk more than those following the traditional DASH Diet.

With all the continuing evidence that reducing carbohydrate in the diet leads to improvements in health, it makes me wonder why there remains such resistance in the scientific and medical communities to accept the obvious?

As a nation we jumped head-long into the theory of low-fat diets and still continue to perpetrate the myth that low-fat is healthier for everyone.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – for some individualas, a low-fat diet may indeed be better. But, the evidence is clear that a low-fat approach may also be damaging to the health of other individuals. For those individuals not well-suited metabolically to a low-fat approach, a controlled-carb approach is often a healthier option – an option that must be added to the “toolbox” of options physicians recommend to their patients if/when a low-fat approach is clearly not working or even worsening an individuals health.

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