Eating a predominantly vegan diet consisting of plant-based foods can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 52 percent, a new study suggests.
A variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless fish and chicken, nuts and legumes are all key to avoiding health problems later in life.
Conversely, researchers advise young people to limit saturated fat, salt, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks to prevent heart attacks in middle age.
While they did not look at the reason behind the link, previous research suggests that plant-based diets may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and help you lose weight – all risk factors for heart disease.
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Eating a predominantly vegan diet consisting of plant-based foods can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 52 percent, new research suggests (stock image)
VEGETARIAN DIETS CAN REDUCE YOUR CHOLYSTEROL
Plant-based diets really lower cholesterol, according to a review of nearly 50 studies.
Vegetarians generally eat more vegetables, fruits and nuts, which means they have a lower intake of saturated fats, the researchers found.
These foods are naturally rich in ingredients such as soluble fiber, soy protein and plant sterols (a cholesterol found in plants), all of which lower cholesterol.
The research, led by Dr. Yoko Yokoyama, of Keio University in Fujisawa, found that vegetarians had 29.2 milligrams less total cholesterol per deciliter (one-tenth of a liter) than those who ate meat.
The long-term study, led by scientists at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, looked at the diets of about 5,000 people over a 30-year period and whether they developed heart disease.
They were not told what to eat. Instead, the quality of their diet was assessed at the beginning of the study and then after seven years and 20 years based on the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS).
APDQS consisted of 46 food groups divided into wholesome foods (such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains); harmful foods (such as chips, high-fat red meat, salty foods, pastries and soft drinks); and neutral foods (such as potatoes, refined grains, lean meats, and shellfish).
This was done based on their links to heart disease.
People who got higher scores ate a range of wholesome foods that make up mostly a plant-based diet, while those who scored lower ate more harmful foods.
During the 32-year follow-up, the researchers found that 289 people included in the study developed heart disease (including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart-related chest pain, or blocked arteries).
They also found that those who scored at 20 percent high on the quality score of the long-term diet (meaning they ate richer plant-based plant foods and fewer negatively rated animal products) were 52 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
Meanwhile, between the ages of seven and 20 of the study, when participants’ ages ranged from 25 to 50, those who improved the quality of their diet were 61 percent less likely to develop heart disease, compared with those who improved the quality of their diet. which fell the most during that time.
Researchers advise young people to limit saturated fat, salt, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks to prevent heart attacks in middle age (stock image)
There were few vegetarians among the participants, so the study was unable to assess the potential benefits of a strict vegetarian diet, which excludes meat and fish.
“A diet rich in plant-based foods is beneficial for cardiovascular health,” said lead author Yuni Choi.
A plant-based diet is not necessarily vegetarian. People can choose between plant foods that are as close to natural as possible, not too processed.
“We think individuals may include animal products in moderation from time to time, such as uncooked poultry, roasted fish, eggs and low-fat milk.”
Other author David E. Jacobs said: “Unlike existing diet quality scores that are typically based on a small number of food groups, APDQS is clear in capturing overall diet quality using 46 individual food groups, described the entire diet that the population typically consumes.
‘Our result is very comprehensive and has many similarities to diets such as the Dietary Guidelines for the American Healthy Food Index (from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service), the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Preventing Hypertension) and diets ”
Meanwhile, a separate study published last month found that eating red and processed meats such as bacon, sausages and bacon can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Analyzing data from 13 different studies involving 1.4 million people allowed the team from Oxford University to examine the impact of meat on health.
They found that for every 50g a day of processed meat, such as bacon, ham and sausages eaten, the risk of coronary heart disease increases by 18 percent.
For raw meat such as pork, lamb and beef, the risk increased by nine percent over red meat. There was no increased risk with birds.
The team says their study did not investigate the cause, but suggest it may be the highest concentration of saturated fat in red meat and salt in processed meat.
The latest study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
WHAT SHOULD A KNOWLEDGE OF A BALANCED DIET BE?
Foods should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally cereals, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 different servings of fruits and vegetables each day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Foods based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole grain cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potatoes with skin
• Have some milk or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) by choosing lower fat and sugar options
• Eat some beans, grains, fish, eggs, meat and other protein (including 2 servings of fish each week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and poultices and consume in small quantities
• Drink 6-8 glasses / glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide