A recent study demonstrates that healthy low-fat diets reduce mortality rates in middle-aged and older adults, while unhealthy and general low-carbohydrate diets increase these rates.
Short-term clinical trials have provided evidence that low-carbohydrate diets (LCDs) and low-fat diets (LFDs) can offer advantages for weight loss and cardiac health. Now, a study recently published in the Journal of Internal Medicine investigates the impact of these dietary practices on life expectancy in middle-aged and older adults.
Low-carbohydrate diets, like the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet, and the Ketogenic or “Keto” Diet, focus on minimizing the intake of carbohydrates and substituting them with proteins and healthy fats. Conversely, low-fat diets, such as the Ornish Diet, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet, and the DASH Diet, aim to decrease the consumption of high-fat foods, emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
In the study of 371,159 individuals aged 50 to 71 years, 165,698 deaths occurred over a median follow-up of 23.5 years.
A healthy LFD—characterized by a low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of plant protein and high-quality carbohydrates—was related to fewer deaths from all causes, from cardiovascular diseases, and from cancers. In contrast, an overall LCD and an unhealthy LCD were associated with significantly higher total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality rates. A healthy LCD was associated with slightly lower death rates.
“Our results support the importance of maintaining a healthy LFD with less saturated fat in preventing all-cause and cause-specific mortality among middle-aged and older people,” the authors wrote.
Reference: “Low-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, and mortality in middle-aged and older people: A prospective cohort study” by Yimin Zhao, Yueying Li, Wenxiu Wang, Zimin Song, Zhenhuang Zhuang, Duo Li, Lu Qi and Tao Huang, 3 May 2023, Journal of Internal Medicine.