Want to live a longer life? A low-fat or healthy low-carb diet may help.

May 16, 2023

A low-carb or healthy diet could be the key to a long life.

According to a study published in the Journal of Internal MedicineTrusted Source, low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets positively impact health and mortality among middle-aged and older adults.

A healthy low-fat eating pattern was defined by the low intake of saturated fatty acids and the high information of plant proteins and high-quality carbohydrates.

Short-term clinical studies have demonstrated the health benefits of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets in weight loss and heart disease.

The new study adds some nuance.

Low-carbohydrate diets are associated with lower mortality from all causes and heart disease. However, the findings of this new study on low-carbohydrate diets were a little more complex.

Low-carbohydrate and unhealthy low-carbohydrate diets are associated with higher rates of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.

However, a healthy low-carbohydrate diet was linked to a slightly lower mortality rate.

In a release, the authors of the study state that “our results confirm the importance of maintaining a healthy diet low in fat with less saturated fatty acids to prevent all-cause mortality and cause-specific death among middle-aged people and older persons.”

What Nutrition Experts Say

Lon Ben-Asher, MS RD, a nutritionist at Pritikin Longevity Center, tells Healthline that the quality of the food consumed by an individual is the key to preventing, reducing, or promoting disease.

He says that if someone follows a diet consisting of low-carbohydrates or low-fats with high-quality carbohydrates, plant proteins, phytonutrients, and dietary fibers, most research-based studies support this way to prevent or reduce the risk of chronic disease such as:

He gives the following examples: all vegetables, but especially peas. Also, potatoes, lentils, beans, and other legumes. Oatmeal, whole grains, and foods with low saturated fats or dietary cholesterol.

He says that this way of eating promotes beneficial bacteria in the microbiome and reduces inflammation throughout the body.

Ben-Asher says that this is also beneficial for weight management and brain health.

Kristin K. Kirkpatrick is a nutritionist, author, and expert on non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease and type 2 diabetes. She says the most important thing to remember when constructing a dietary plan is to include plenty of vegetables and protein.

She also says getting your fats from healthy sources like olive oil and nuts is essential, as this tends to be consistent in the research surrounding healthy diets.

There is no harm in eating carbs and fats. But the balance of these nutrients and their sources determines your health, says Andy De Santis. He is a nutritionist and author of The 28-Day DASH Weight Loss Program.

Grace Derocha MBA, RD CDCES, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Healthline that a low-carb and a low-fat diet may lead to a longer or healthier life.

She says many people tend to overeat carbohydrates and fats, so reducing this amount can help maintain weight. This usually leads to better outcomes for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Tips for making healthy diet changes

Following these simple tips, nutrition experts suggest you can make lasting changes to your diet and improve your overall health.

Quality ingredients are the focus.

Kirkpatrick told Healthline that quality is critical to any diet. She explains that she spends a lot of time educating her patients about fiber, sources of lean protein, and healthy fats.

Kirkpatrick suggests that cauliflower rice can be used in place of white rice.

She says that while it may not happen immediately, over time, most of the people she has worked with prefer the adaptations.

She says a baked salmon and broccoli dish would work well as an alternative to meat with potatoes. These things can be easily made at home or even when eating out.

Eat more plant-based, whole foods.

Ben-Asher explains that “food is fuel, and it provides our bodies with the macro and micronutrients they need to thrive.”

He adds: “If we focus more on eating whole, plant-based food and reduce the highly processed, calorie-rich foods high in saturated fats and unhealthy oils and sugars and sodium found in convenient and easily accessible sources, then we can promote our health and avoid disease.”

Choose seafood or fish over red meat.

De Santis suggests that if you eat a lot of red meat, lamb, or pork at home or in restaurants, you should swap some for fish or other seafood.

Switch the sauce

You can control what goes into your meal when you eat out. De Santis recommends, for instance, switching to a tomato-based sauce rather than a cream or cheese-based sauce when eating pasta.

Pack protein-rich snacks

Kirkpatrick recommends taking some mixed nuts or a Protein Bar to help combat hunger when out of the home. It may prevent you from grabbing processed food and convenience foods at fast-food restaurants or convenience stores, which are often high in saturated fats, sugar, salt, and low-quality carbohydrates.

You can use legumes to your benefit.

De Santis says, “Legumes such as lentils and beans have fewer carbs but more fiber and protein than similar starches. They should be consumed more often because they reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, all cardiovascular risk factors.

Practice portion control

De Rocha adds that portion control is crucial for reducing carbs.

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