A new study says that taking in too many or too few carbs can be bad for your health. It was deduced that for a healthy lifespan, a moderate amount of carbohydrate is imperative.
But the researchers recognize that their findings are purely observational at this stage and can not prove a cause and effect of eating too little or too many carbohydrates.
As more and more people are concerned with losing weight, the prevalence of the low-carb diet is increasing.
Researchers found that moderate carb consumption is healthier. Those who eat more meat like chicken, lamb and less carbohydrates, their mortality risk tend to be higher than those who get their protein from foods such like avocados, nuts and legumes. Low carb diets were defined as carbs contributing less than 40% of the individual's energy intake, while high carb diets were those where carbohydrates accounted for more than 70% of energy consumption.
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The study used self-reported data from more than 15,400 Americans, ages 45-64, and compared the patterns to seven other studies that involved a total of 432,179 participants in over 20 countries. "However, our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged".
The participants answered questions about their dietary habits both at the beginning of the study and 6 years later, at follow-up.
According to the research results of the group for 25 years, the researchers found that those who received 50-55% of its energy from carbohydrates, had a slightly lower risk of premature death compared to those who consumed too much or too little carbs. "These findings bring together several strands that have been controversial", said Professor Walter Willett, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and one of the study's authors.
"A really important message from this study is that it is not enough to focus on the nutrients, but whether they are derived from animal or plant sources", she added. "Current guidelines have been criticized by those who favor low-carb diets, largely based on short term studies for weight loss or metabolic control in diabetes, but it is vital to consider long-term effects and to examine mortality, as this study did", said Nita Forouhi, Program Leader of the Nutritional Epidemiology program at the University of Cambridge.
Such diets may help prolong life - unlike the diets that replace carbs with animal proteins and fat.