Washington, Feb 8 : A new study has claimed that a diet low in carbohydrates is better than a diet low in fat at preventing diabetes.
In the study, the researchers found that a diet low in carbohydrates but high in animal fat and protein doesn't seem to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
"One study is never enough to change a recommendation, but this study is interesting in that it shows that a low-fat diet is no better than a low-carbohydrate diet in preventing type 2 diabetes," Live Science quoted Thomas Halton, lead author of the study, as saying.
"The one diet that did seem to show a protective effect was a vegetable-based, low-carb diet which consisted of higher amounts of vegetable fat and vegetable protein, and lower amounts of carbohydrate," he added.
He added that the results were a bit surprising as most doctors and nutritionists suggest a low-fat diet to prevent type 2 diabetes.
"This study showed that a low-fat diet didn't really prevent type 2 diabetes in our cohort when compared to a low-carb diet. I was also surprised that total carbohydrate consumption was associated with type 2 diabetes, and that the relative risk for the glycemic load was so high," he said.
While low fat, high-carb diets are often suggested; the long-term effects of such a regimen are not known.
People who lower their carbohydrate consumption generally take in more total and saturated fat and less whole grains, cereal fibre, fruit and vegetables, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
For this study, the researchers examined the link between low-carb diets and the risk of diabetes among 85,059 women participating in the Nurse's Health Study. The data included 20 years of follow-up. Women were ranked according to what they ate.
"We calculated a low-carbohydrate diet score based on the women's percent consumption of fat, protein and carbohydrate," Halton said.
"A higher score reflected a higher intake of fat and protein and a lower intake of carbohydrate. Therefore, the higher a woman's score, the more closely she followed a low carb-diet, and the lower her score, the more closely she followed a low-fat diet," he added.
Halton and his colleagues found that women with a higher score did not have a heightened risk of diabetes. In fact, they seemed to have a small decreased risk when they derived their fat and protein from vegetable rather than animal sources.
The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.