With all the hype around the high carb and low carb diets lately it can be confusing trying to decide which dietary pattern is best for long-term health. Well, a recent study published in the Lancet Public Health Journal has reported that the answer is neither!
The study used self-reported data from over 15000 Americans over a 25 year period and found that those who ate a moderate carbohydrate diet actually lived 4 years longer than those following a low carbohydrate diet and 1 year longer than those consuming a high carbohydrate diet. These diets were defined as a diet contributing less than 40% energy from carbohydrate for a low carb diet or greater than 70% energy from carbohydrate for a high carb diet.
The study also found that of the low carbohydrate population those that replaced carbs with animal fats and proteins had a higher risk of developing chronic diseases while those that replaced carbs with plant foods were much healthier throughout their lives.
This is a great support for the notion of being able to “eat everything in moderation”, i.e. not restricting yourself but eating sensible balanced meals. It also emphasises the idea that weight loss and health is more than just about how much we eat but also the quality of the foods we put in our mouths.
For years, the healthiest diets or communities have always been those which include more plant-based foods and proteins than animal-based foods. Plant-based meals such as those using tofu, beans or lentils as proteins are also cheaper and can be more environmentally friendly than meals based around meat, fish or dairy. And transitioning to these proteins can be as easy as swapping the mince in yourfavourite bolognese for tinned brown lentils or the chicken in your favorite stir-fry for firm tofu.
This will instantly increase the fibre content of your meals and reduce the saturated fat content, 2 factors which are important in managing chronic health risk factors. So if you are interested in saving money getting healthy, why not start with trying to make one meal per week meat-free?
If you would like more information then call and book in with one of our accredited practicing dietitians, to help you see what other changes you can make to improve your health.