Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets have lasting healthy effects, even in people who gain weight, according to a new study out of Israel.
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Israel's Nuclear Research Center found a healthy diet can significantly lower cholesterol and blood lipids, reducing the risk of hardening of arteries (arteriosclerosis), even in people who pack on pounds.
For the study, researchers tracked 322 moderately obese people who followed Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets for a period of six years. Over the course of the study, participants regained nearly six pounds on average — with 67 percent sticking to their original assigned diet, 11 percent switching to another diet, and 22 percent not dieting at all.
At the end of the study, the researchers found those who stayed on the low-carb diet had healthier cholesterol levels, despite the weight gain. Triglyceride levels stayed much lower in those on the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets. And total cholesterol levels remained persistently and significantly lower in all diet groups, compared to the others.
“Our [study] shows lasting, positive effects of Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets six years later,” said Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs from the Nuclear Research Center. “The results suggest that the lipid profile [lower cholesterol, triglycerides and arteriosclerosis] improved for the long term, regardless of partial [weight] regain.”