For the study, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine (MU) recruited 20 middle-aged pre-diabetic men and women. Then, they gave the participants low-carb meals for two weeks. After two more weeks, they supplied them meal planning instructions. The researchers measured the body weight of the participants, as well as their arterial stiffness using pulse wave velocity.
After the four-week study, the male participants lost 6.3 percent of their body weight, while the female participants lost 4.4 percent. Based on the arterial stiffness measurement, the women exhibited reduced blood flow speeds of one meter (m) per second, while men did not show any changes in this area. (Related: Low-carb vegan diet found to reduce weight gain and heart attack risk.)
"Our study is the first to demonstrate that weight loss can reduce arterial stiffness in as little as four weeks and that dietary carbohydrate restriction may be an effective treatment for reducing aortic stiffness in women," said Dr. Elizabeth Parks, a professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of three American adults live with prediabetes, a condition in which a person's blood sugar is higher than normal, and elevated blood sugar -- both of which are risk factors for arterial stiffness. Stiffening of the arteries is part of aging, but it can be accelerated by obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Earlier studies have also shown that blood vessels stiffen more in women than in men, putting them at a greater risk for heart disease. Arterial stiffness has been identified as a contributing factor to many chronic diseases, including hypertension, heart attack, stroke, kidney disorders, liver disorder, Type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, leukoaraiosis or cerebral white matter disease, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to following a healthy low-carb diet, arterial stiffness can be reduced through other natural ways, such as:
Read more news stories and studies on keeping the heart healthy by going to Heart.news.