Moderate carbohydrate intake may result in good health

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They analysed the dietary habits of 15,428 adults aged 45 to 64 from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds from four USA communities.

After a 25-year study, scientists found that those who got 50-55 per cent of their energy from carbohydrates (this counts as "moderate carb intake" as per health guidelines) had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups. Often they just do not know that there is a slow (good) and fast (bad) carbohydrate foods.

The NHS Eatwell Guide provides details on how to achieve this kind of healthy, balanced diet and reduce the risk of serious illnesses in the long term.

According to the research, 50-year-olds with a moderate carb diet are expected to live for another 33 years, which is 2.3 years more than low-carb group (got 30-40% of energy from carbs) and 1.1 years more than high-carb group (65% or more).

A review of medical records for an additional 432,000 people from earlier studies confirmed the results, which are also in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

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The latest research suggests that if you get two choices of low-carb diet, then you should choose the one that replaces carbohydrates with plant-derived proteins and fats as it may help extend your life. And those who ate more than the recommended amount had a 23 percent higher risk.

The diets of 15,400 participants in the USA were analysed to estimate how many calories they got from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

"Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy".

This revealed similar trends, with participants whose overall diets were high and low in carbohydrates having a shorter life expectancy than those with moderate consumption. Exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins in a low-carb diet might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.

Prof Nita Forouhi, from the MRC epidemiology unit at University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study, said: "A really important message from this study is that it is not enough to focus on the nutrients, but whether they are derived from animal or plant sources".

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The study also found that low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources were associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.

However, there are limitations to the study. However, the authors highlight that since diets were only measured at the start of the trial and 6 years later, dietary patterns could change over 25 years, which might make the reported effect of carbohydrate consumption on lifespan less certain. The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires on the food and drink they consumed, along with portion sizes.

Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian, said: "No aspect of nutrition is so hotly contended on social media than the carb versus fat debate, despite the long-term evidence on health benefits supporting the higher carb argument".

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