Eating a diet that is low in carbohydrates could mean you die younger, a 25-year study has suggested. The researchers found that, from age 50, average life expectancy was 83 years for those with moderate carbohydrate intake (50-55 per cent of daily calories), which was four years longer than those with very low carbohydrate consumption (less than 40 per cent of calories) who lived an average of 79 years.
But it wasn't all bad news for people following low-carb diets.
Seidelmann, a clinical research fellow in Boston, revealed the added risk of replacing carbs with protein and fats from animals instead of plants.
Co-author Dr Sara Seidelmann said: 'Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy.
"These data also provide further evidence that animal-based low carbohydrate diets should be discouraged".
"There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins", said Mr Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in England.
The authors said previous studies have not addressed the source or quality of proteins and fats consumed in low-carb diets.
The observational study looked at the diets of more than 15,400 people aged 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in the US over six years. Over a 25-year, follow-up period, more than 6,000 of the men and women died.
Those with high-carb diets even managed to outlive those with low-carb diets by three years, while those with moderate carbohydrate consumption outlived those with low-carb by four years.
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They conducted a meta-analysis of studies on carbohydrate intake including more than 432,000 people from over 20 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. An early risk of death was associated with groups who either ate too few carbs or too many.
The authors speculate that Western-type diets that restrict carbohydrates often result in lower intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains and lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats, which have been linked to inflammation and ageing in the body.
Of course, this is just one study, and lots more research would have to be done to conclude that loading up on carbs is better that cutting them out altogether.
It sounds harsh, especially given that low carbohydrate diets can help you to lose weight in the short-term and improve your cardio-metabolic risk.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London-based cardiologist and anti-obesity campaigner, questioned the validity of the study. A "sweet spot" found somewhere in the middle at 50 per cent of calories.
"On the basis of these principles, moderate intake of carbohydrate ... is likely to be more appropriate for the general population than are very low or very high intakes".
However, the key is eating it in moderation and incorporating vegetables, lentils and nuts to your diet.
Still, the commentary called for more studies that look at the effect of eating carbs on certain biomarkers; as well as studies that randomly assign people to follow certain dietary patterns, rather than focusing on specific nutrients.