The low-carbohydrate diet and cardiovascular risk factors: Evidence from epidemiologic studies

T. Hu, L. A. Bazzano

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Aims: Obesity is an important public health issue because of its high prevalence and concomitant increase in risk of cardiovascular diseases. Low carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss and weight management but are not recommended in leading guidelines due to the perception that increases in dietary fat intake may lead to an adverse cardiovascular risk profile. To clarify the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss on cardiovascular disease risk factors as compared to a low fat diet for weight loss, we systematically reviewed data from randomized controlled clinical trials and large observational studies. Data synthesis: We searched the MEDLINE database (Jan 1966-Nov 2013) to identify studies that examined a low-carbohydrate diet as compared to a low-fat diet for weight loss or the improvement of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Conclusions: Recent randomized controlled trials document that low-carbohydrate diets not only decrease body weight but also improve cardiovascular risk factors. In light of this evidence from randomized controlled trials, dietary guidelines should be re-visited advocating a healthy low carbohydrate dietary pattern as an alternative dietary strategy for the prevention of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Low carbohydrate diet
  • Risk factors
  • Weight loss


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