Eating meat can increase your risk of developing a heart condition.
But research suggests that the effect of a low-fat diet on your heart is weaker than previously thought.
The new study, led by the University of Washington, found that people who ate less meat had more frequent heart attacks, and they were more likely to have heart attacks in the past.
The researchers measured changes in blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol in more than 1,400 people who had had heart attacks and their spouses and partners.
They also looked at the risk factors for heart attacks.
The results were published online today in the journal Circulation.
The study participants were mostly middle-aged white people, who were not necessarily smokers or heavy drinkers.
They were not allowed to smoke for medical reasons.
“It’s the first randomized controlled trial of a reduced-fat, low-sugar diet for heart health,” said lead author and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jessica O. Mathers, a professor in the Department of Medicine and of Epidemiology at the UW School of Medicine.
The findings of the study also showed that low-calorie dieters had lower risks of heart attacks than those who ate more meat.
The study also found that there was a link between low-carbohydrate diets and lower risk of heart disease, but not for type 2 diabetes or obesity.
“This is the first study that has looked at these dietary changes, and this is what we found,” Mather and her coauthors wrote.
The authors of the new study were surprised by the results.
They didn’t think that people with a low risk of having heart attacks would eat less meat.
“There were so many people who were eating a lot of meat,” said Dr. Sarah B. Biederman, who works at the University at Buffalo Medical Center.
The difference between the study participants and those with a normal diet may be due to their diets differing from one another, Biedermans coauthor said.
The health effects of reduced-carb diets on heart health may be a different story, Bieserman said.
“We know that reduced-calories diets reduce inflammation and reduce risk factors that lead to heart disease,” Biederc said.
Mathers and her colleagues wanted to determine whether low-energy diets that include more fruits and vegetables and lower fat foods could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers were also interested in determining whether low carb diets may help people with high blood pressure avoid having heart attack.
“What we found is that it is not necessarily that the diet has to be very low in energy, but that the reduction in energy is sufficient,” Muthers coauthor, Dr. Christopher R. Kuczynski, said.
“You might not be consuming as much as you want, but you still need the diet to be adequate to maintain good blood pressure.”
The researchers fed their participants the low-carbers diet for three months.
They found that those who had less energy intake also had a lower risk for developing heart disease.
“These results suggest that a low energy diet that includes fruits and veggies may be helpful for heart disease prevention,” Mates said.