A new study finds that while men on low-carb diets may lose more weight, women see better improvements in artery flexibility. Findings of the study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, may help in the reduction of heart disease risk in pre-diabetic women through a low-carb diet.
This is the first study to demonstrate that weight loss can help in the improvement of arterial stiffness in only 4 weeks and dietary carbohydrate restriction is an effective measure of reducing aortic stiffness in women.
Elizabeth Parks, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, University of Missouri, and colleagues conducted the study to determine whether a reduction in aortic stiffness, measured by carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) could be achieved by dietary carbohydrate (CHO) restriction, shown to bring about weight loss over a shorter timeframe.
“Assume good vessels to be like a rubber hose and ageing causing vessels to become stiff, similar to a plastic pipe. When you pour water through a rubber hose, the hose bends and flexes as the water makes its way through. When you pour water through a solid pipe, the water travels through the pipe quickly. In the human body, for good health, we want flexible, pliable, resilient arteries,” explains Parks.
Increased aortic stiffness, measured by carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV), is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and past data have shown the role of low-fat and low-energy diets in lowering of PWV.
“Previous research has shown that as women age, their blood vessels stiffen more so than men, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Parks. “Contrary to what you may think, you actually don’t want stiff blood vessels. Rather, you want flexible vessels that expand slowly as the blood flows through them. Our study found that low-carb diets helped reduce the stiffness of arteries in women, which can, in turn, reduce their risk of developing serious heart conditions.”
For the study, 20 prediabetic, middle-aged women, and men were given carb-restricted meals for two weeks and were supplied meal planning instructions for an additional two weeks.
- Over the four-week period, the men in the study lost 6.3 percent of their body weight, while women lost 4.4 percent.
- sing an arterial stiffness measurement called pulse wave velocity, the women showed reduced blood flow speeds of 1 meter per second, while men showed no changes in blood flow speed.
“Vascular stiffness is a natural process of ageing that can be accelerated by obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome,” said Parks.
“Future studies are needed to establish the mechanisms by which dietary CHO restriction may confer more cardiovascular benefits to women compared to men,” concluded the authors.
For more information log on to https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2018-0113
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