A regular diet that is low on carbohydrates obtained from meat is not safe enough, a new study reveals while pointing out that low-carb diet garnering fats and proteins from vegetable sources are better for health.

Researchers who compared both diet types for more than two decades inferred that the low-carb, vegetable-based plan caused lesser deaths from cardiovascular diseases and cancer as well as a lower rate of death from other causes.

The study, which appears in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that the results of the two diet types were drastically different from each other. "Those who follow the animal-based low carb diet had increased mortality risk while those who took the vegetarian diet were safer," says Dr. Frank B. Hu, author of the study.

The researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston said that though several smaller studies had shown the benefits of the Atkins-type low carb diets, there has been some concern about the inclusion of animal fat and protein in such diets and the resultant increase in the risk of chronic diseases.

The group conducted two studies on the subject. The first one followed 85,168 women between 1980 and 2006 while the other studied 44,548 men between the same periods of time. It was observed that men and women on an animal-based low-carb diet had a 23 percent higher risk of death and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease.

However, those following the Atkins-type diet with focus on vegetables showed a 20 percent lower death rate and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Hu said plant-based low-carb diets get their fats mostly from vegetable oils, nuts and peanut butter. Proteins can come from legumes, nuts and whole grains instead of bacon and sausage.