Study Answers if a Low-Carb Diet or Low-Fat Diet Helps You Live Longer

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  • New research determines whether a low-carb or low-fat diet is better for longevity.

  • Researchers found that participants who followed one diet had an 18% lower mortality rate than those that followed the other.

  • Experts interpret the findings.

When it comes to diets, every kind of eating plan boasts different benefits, whether it’s weight loss, reducing inflammation, or boosting your brain power. Now, new research finds out if a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet promotes longevity.

The study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine looked at the effects of both low-carbohydrate diets and low-fat diets to determine which of the two helped people live a longer life—and the results may surprise you.

Researchers analyzed data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which in 1995 and 1996 recruited AARP members ages 50 to 71. Study participants were asked to complete a food questionnaire. Participants who reported having cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, end-stage kidney disease, or other health issues were excluded from the analysis—which left 371,159 participants in total.

The participants’ food choices were categorized based on how closely they resembled a “healthy” low-carb or “healthy” low-fat diet. A healthy low-carb diet was defined as a high intake of unsaturated fats with limited consumption of low-quality carbohydrates, such as refined grains, added sugars, fruit juice, and starchy vegetables. A healthy low-fat diet included plant-based proteins, high-quality carbohydrates, like whole grains, whole fruit, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables, and limited saturated fat.

After following up around 23.5 years later, researchers found that participants whose eating patterns were most similar to the healthy low-fat diet had an overall mortality rate that was 18% lower than those with eating patterns

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