People who are considering going on a diet should avoid low-carbohydrate weight loss programmes as they could have a negative effect on the heart, new research suggests.
A team led by Dr David Gutterman, professor of medicine and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, found that low-carbohydrate diets can put dieters at increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) as they tend to be high in fat.
Lead author Dr Shane Phillips, who is now assistant professor at the University of Illinois, commented: "While a low-carbohydrate diet may result in weight loss and improvement in blood pressure, similar to a low-fat diet, the higher fat content is ultimately more detrimental to heart health than is the low-fat diet."
The study also found that low-carbohydrate diets tend to contain little folic acid, which is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dr Gutterman added: "The composition of diet may be as important as the degree of weight loss in determining the effect of dietary interventions on vascular health."