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Aug 3, 2010 8:50 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Heart Healthy: Low-carb diet beats low-fat

Over the long term, a low-carb diet works just as well as a low-fat diet at taking off the pounds - and it might be better for your heart, new research suggests.

Both diets improved cholesterol in a two-year study that included intensive group counseling. But those on the low-carbohydrate diet got a bigger boost in their so-called good cholesterol, nearly twice as much as those on low-fat.

In previous studies, low-carb diets have done better at weight loss at six months, but longer-term results have been mixed. And there's been a suggestion of better cholesterol from low-carb eating.

The latest test is one of the longest to compare the approaches. At the end of two years, average weight loss was the same for both - about 15 pounds or 7 percent.

The key difference was in HDL, or good cholesterol: a 23 percent increase from low-carb dieting compared to a 12 percent improvement from low-fat, said Gary Foster, director of Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education, who led the federally funded study.

He said the low-carb boost is the kind one might get from medicines that improve HDL.

"For a diet, that's pretty impressive," Foster said.

The findings, published in Tuesday's Annals of Internal Medicine, are based on a study of 307 adults, two-thirds of them women. Participants were obese but didn't have cholesterol problems or diabetes.

 

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