A nutrition study on carbohydrate intake and risk of death has been causing a media stir this week.
This news may cause people following low carbohydrate diets rethink what they put on their plate.
The study, published in leading medical journal The Lancet, found that both low and high carbohydrate diets increased risk of death in the population studied.
It followed over 15’000 adults in the USA from the late 1980s, it analysed their dietary intake and followed up on the participant’s health over 25 years.
Their main finding was an increased risk of death at both low (being less than 40% of energy) and high (over 70% energy) carbohydrate intakes. The optimal level of carbohydrate intake being 50-55% energy. That equates to around 250g carbohydrates per day for the average woman and 313g per day for the average man, based on the UK recommended energy intakes of 2000kcal for women and 2500kcal for men.
They further analysed the dietary data and found that people who swapped antifungals carbohydrate for animal proteins and fats, for example lamb, beef, pork and chicken had the greatest risk of death. Those, who instead, chose plant based alternatives such as vegetables, nuts, nut butters and wholegrains decreased the risk of death by 18%.
The study concludes…
These data also provide further evidence that animal-based low carbohydrate diets should be discouraged. Alternatively, when restricting carbohydrate intake, replacement of carbohydrates with predominantly plant-based fats and proteins could be considered as a long-term approach to promote healthy ageing.
The take home message?
That, as always, moderation is key. And, that carbs are not the enemy! There is a clear difference, for example in carbohydrates in the form of added sugar (such as fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, sweets) to carbohydrates found in wholegrains, legumes or vegetables. If you choose to reduce your carbohydrate intake, be sure to replace this with plant based protein and fats, instead of animal sources. Fill your plate with wholegrains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses!