A European observational study has shown a greater risk of cardiovascular mortality among women who followed a long term “low carb” (high protein) diet. Such dietary approaches are popular for rapid weight loss, and other studies have produced mixed results. But an evaluation of the diet of more than 43,000 women from the Swedish Women’s Lifestyle and Health Cohort showed significantly increased risk for cardiovascular events in scores for carbohydrate intake, protein intake and increases in a carbohydrate- protein score. The statistical evaluation included 1270 cardiovascular events over the 15 ½ year observation period.
The carbohydrate protein score was assigned based upon self reported dietary habits, and scores ranged from 2 (very high carbohydrate and very low protein) to 20 (very low consumption of carbohydrates and very high consumption of protein). For each 2 point increase in the diet score there was a 5% increase of cardiovascular event.
Researchers pointed out that the study did not evaluate the value of these dietary approaches for weight loss over the short term, but suggested that the implication of low carbohydrate would exclude heart healthy foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits with a reduced intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These habits over the long term could account for the increased cardiovascular risks.