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Fitness & Health

12th Aug 2019

Plant-based diets are best for your heart, claims new study

According to a new study, plant-based diets low in animal produce are linked to a lower risk of heart disease and early death

Alex Roberts

Plant-powered diets are becoming increasingly popular – and they may even protect your ticker

According to a new study, plant-based diets low in animal produce are linked to a lower risk of heart disease and early death.

As part of the study, scientists reviewed the diets of over 10,000 people. These people were then split into categories based on the proportion of plant versus animal food they consumed.

Plant-based diets are linked to better heart health

People who ate the most plant-based foods had:

  • A 16% lower risk of heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other similar conditions
  • 32% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease and
  • 25% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who ate the least amount of plant-based foods.

Lead scientist behind the study, Casey M. Rebholz says this is evidence you should scale back meat intake.

“Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet – to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods.” Rebholz said.

Does this mean you should ditch all animal products?

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go completely vegan, scientists say.

Rebholz says: “While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease.”

Not all plant-powered foods are created equal, though – so say the American Heart Association (AHA).

Mariell Jessup, M.D., the chief science and medical officer of the AHA says: “The American Heart Association recommends eating a mostly plant-based diet, provided the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium (salt), cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated and trans fats.

“For example, French fries or cauliflower pizza with cheese are plant-based but are low in nutritional value and are loaded with sodium (salt). Unprocessed foods, like fresh fruit, vegetables and grains are good choices.”

Are plant-based diets better for heart health?

The study didn’t prove that plant-based diets cause improvements in heart health. It merely pointed out that there was a link.

People who take on a mostly plant-based diet are also likely to engage in other healthy behaviours – such as exercise and adequate amounts of sleep. These are likely to be huge factors behind better heart health, too.

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