Some people are just plain eating too many carbs, and these are the signs you are one of them. If you overindulge on high carb foods, limiting those carbs can be a life-saver, literally. In one study, people who ate a lot of carbs (more than 60 percent of their daily calories) had a nearly 30 percent greater risk of dying during a seven-plus year period than people eating a low-carb diet.
Here’s how the researchers figured this out: In their Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, they followed people aged 35 to 70 from 18 countries for 7.4 years on average. Participants answered questions about the foods they ate using a standard questionnaire, and researchers categorized them into groups based on their intake of carbs, fats, and protein.
During the study period, 5,796 participants died and 4,784 had heart attacks or strokes. Researchers took a look at their diets and found that those who consumed the greatest amount of carbs were more likely to die, when compared with their counterparts who consumed the least. Fat, however, seemed protective. People who ate high-fat diets (about 35 percent of daily energy intake) had a 23 percent lower risk of mortality, and an 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to low intake group (11 percent energy).
Carb link to heart disease
The study was not designed to determine why carbs may increase risk of dying, but some older research does provide some clues. A higher carb intake may increase dangerous blood fats known as triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol, explains study author Mashid Dehghan, PhD, an Investigator in the Nutrition Epidemiology program at the Population Health Research Institute and Senior Research Associate in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. “It may also increase apoB/apoA ratios,” she told Reader’s Digest, and “ApoB/ApoA ratio has shown to be strong predictor of heart disease.” In fact, loading up on carbs is among the worst eating habits for people with high cholesterol.
Fat was once considered diet saboteur No. 1, but carbs—especially white, processed, simple ones—now holds this title. In fact, two other studies published in the journal Cell Metabolism also raise hopes that low-carb diets, if followed over time, improve the odds of living longer and can also boost memory. (These studies were in mice, but they do add to growing body of evidence).