On a Low-Carb Diet? Skip the Meat, Go All Veggie, and You'll Live Longer

Published: October 21, 2012

[Original author Laurie Barclay, MD, for Medscape]

Two studies published in the September 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine show a significant health benefit of vegetable-based low-carb diets over animal-based low-carb diets.

The studies showed that participants who ate a vegetable-based low-carb diet were associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates. In stark contrast, those who ate an animal-based low-carb diet exhibited higher all-cause mortality rates.

One study followed women over a 26-year period and men over a 20-year period (both ending in 2006) with the objective of evaluating the association between low-carb diets and mortality. Questionnaires were administered to characterize participants' diets as low-carb or not — and if low-carb, whether it was animal-based or vegetable-based.

85,000 women aged 34-59 and 44,000 men aged 45-75 participated in the study. None were known to have heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. 12,000 women and 8,600 men passed away during the study. Of these, 2,500 women and 2,700 men died of cardiovascular disease. 5,800 women and 2,900 men died of cancer.

Analysis of lowest vs. highest deciles showed that overall low-carb scores were associated with slightly higher mortality rates. When the higher low-carbohydrate score was animal-based, the all-cause mortality rates, cardiovascular deaths, and cancer-related deaths were also higher.

In contrast, higher vegetable-based low-carb scores were associated with reduced all-cause mortality rates and cardiovascular deaths.

"A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates," the study authors concluded.


Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:289-298, 337-339

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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