Vegetable-protein diet effective in heart disease study

by Jeff Gelski
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ST. LOUIS — A low-carbohydrate, plant-based diet had advantages over a high-carbohydrate, low-fat weight-loss diet in improving heart disease risk factors, according to the results of a study appearing in the June 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study involved 47 overweight people along with researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the University of Toronto and St. Louis-based The Solae Co. One diet was low-carbohydrate (26% of total calories), high in vegetable protein (31% from gluten, soy, nuts, fruit, vegetables and cereal) and vegetable oil (43%). The other diet was lacto-ovo vegetarian (58% carbohydrate, 16% protein and 25% fat). The parallel study design lasted four weeks with 44 subjects completing the study.

Weight loss was similar for both diets. Reductions in L.D.L. (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol were greater for people in the low-carbohydrate, plant-based diet. Reductions in blood pressure also were seen.

"Soy proteins and nuts were valuable sources of protein, and nuts also provided healthy oils," said David J.A. Jenkins, a professor at the University of Toronto. "These foods have individually been associated with cholesterol reduction in other studies."

Greg Paul, sports nutrition expert at Solae and a study author, added, "These findings build on the body of evidence for the role of soy protein in lowering heart disease risk."

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