A new two year study suggests that both low-carb and low-fat diets work for weight-loss but choosing low-fat might be better for the heart.

When combined with intensive counseling about eating and exercise, both diets improved cholesterol but low-carbohydrate diet provided nearly twice as much boost in “good” cholesterol than low-fat.

People in both groups lost an average of about 15 pounds or 7 percent after being on diets for two years.

HDL, or good cholesterol improved 23 percent for people on low-carb diet compared to 12 percent on low-fat diet.

The findings published in the Aug. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers followed 307 overweight adults, two-thirds of them women, with an average body-mass index of 36. The participants didn’t have cholesterol problems or diabetes.

For two years, half followed a low-carb diet fashioned after the Atkins diet and the other half followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet. The dieters also received counseling and guidance about dieting and exercise.

Periodic checks of the weight, blood and bone density and body composition showed that the participants had a similar result of weight loss: an average of about just over 15 percent.

However, there was one difference in good cholesterol level according to Gary Foster, director of Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education, who led the federally funded study.

Levels of "good" cholesterol grew by about 11 percent in the low-fat group but more than twice that -- about 23 percent -- in the low-carb group. Blood pressure also fell by a greater level in the low-carb group vs. the low-fat cohort.

"For a diet, that's pretty impressive," Foster said.

Foster advised that it doesn’t make a difference for weight loss how it is done.

"In general, dieters should be less concerned about what diet they're on and more focused on finding strategies to stick to the diet they chose," he said.