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As low-carb plans became popular, experts feared the diet would drive up the risk of heart disease because it allows more fat. The latest results suggest those concerns are unfounded, Foster said. In the low-carb group, there was an early rise in "bad" cholesterol, the kind that builds up in arteries. But after two years, both groups ended up with similar improvements to bad cholesterol.
The study's strengths include its size, length and its multiple locations -- Denver, Philadelphia and St. Louis, said Dr. William Yancy, of the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina.
"These are results we should have a lot of confidence in," said Yancy, who has done similar diet research but was not involved in the study.
Foster, the study leader, said dieters should be less concerned about which diet to use, and focus on finding the support or technique -- like writing down what they eat -- that keeps them on track.
"It doesn't make a difference for weight loss how you get there," he said.
With the current obesity epidemic, more than one way is needed to attack the problem, Yancy said.
"Both of these are options. These diets work," he said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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