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What’s the best diet? That depends on your gender

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Which diet is heathier—a low-carb or a low-fat?  The answer, it seems, depends on your gender.

Women are more likely to live a longer and healthier life on a low-carb, high-fat diet, while the reverse is true for men.  

Overall, say researchers from Nagoya University in Japan, the sensible approach for both sexes is the Goldilocks one—a balanced diet of carbs and fats, without going to the extremes.

They tracked 81,333 Japanese people—34,893 men and 46,440 women—for nine years to assess the impact of diets on their health and longevity.  During the study, 1,838 men and 945 women—a total of 2,783 participants—died.  .

Analysing the deaths, the researchers found that men who were on a carb-restricted diet—less than 40 percent of their energy was derived from sugars—ran a much higher risk of premature death, and especially from cancer.  The reverse was true for women:  those whose diets consisted of more than 65 percent carbs were more likely to die from any cause.

Conversely, men who ate large amounts of fats, defined as being more than 35 percent of their total energy intake, were more likely to die from cancer.

So, is it just all down to gender?  Possibly, the researchers say, but it could also be that women were eating different fats to men or were eating other things in their diet that were also amplifying the good effects of fats.

The bottom line is that neither extreme is healthy, at least not in the long run.  While restricted diets can be adopted for immediate gains—such as weight loss—they shouldn’t become a lifestyle choice for ever, the researchers say.

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Journal of Nutrition, 2023; 153: 2352-2368
Article Topics: diet
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