Lead author Dr. David Jenkins, director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronro and a professor at the University of Toronto, said many low-carbohydrate diets such as Atkins improved weight loss but most involved eating animal proteins and fats, which might raise cholesterol.
However, the Eco-Atkins diet -- a low-carbohydrate vegan diet -- is high in vegetable proteins and oils which may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or the "bad," cholesterol.
The Eco-Atkins diet is about 26 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 31 percent from proteins and 43 per cent from fat, primarily from vegetable fat such as nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado.
Carbohydrate sources included high-fiber foods such as oats and barley and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant, while proteins came from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals -- not meat.
"We killed two birds with one stone -- or, rather, with one diet," Jenkins said in a statement.
"We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."
The researchers compared Eco-Atkins to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.
The findings, published in British Medical Journal Open, found the Eco-Atkins diet reduced cholesterol by 10 percent while also helping study participants lose an average of 4 more pounds than the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet over a six-month period.