If you find yourself throwing more plant-based or whole foods — plant-derived foods — into your shopping cart, you are not alone. Current data show that the plant food industry is now a $ 7 billion market, according to statistics from the Plant-Based Food Association.

In fact, more than 71 million American households, which is 57% of all U.S. households, bought plant-based foods in 2020 — a 4% increase from last year.

Foods based on minimally processed, animal-free items — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans and legumes), nuts, seeds, spices, and oils — have been linked to a host of health benefits. And now, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recently released two research studies that provide further evidence to enjoy more meatless dishes.

Here are four reasons why you might want to consider adding some vegetarian / flexible / Mediterranean / herbal specialties to your diet plan, and for even healthier nutrition tips, be sure to check out our list of Best Foods and worst to eat on a plant-based diet.

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Following a plant-based lifestyle today can keep your heart healthy along the way. One of the studies published in Journal of the American Heart Association monitored the eating habits of 4,946 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 over a 32-year period. Participants were asked to provide their detailed diet history, while the authors rated their food choices on a scale. Healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains) scored the highest while harmful foods (high-fat red meat, fried foods, salty foods, sweets, and soft drinks) scored. low results.

After considering other risk factors (such as genetics, smoking, and exercise habits), volunteers who scored at 20% high on the long-term diet rate were 52% less likely to suffer from a cardiovascular condition three decades later With Moreover, adults who changed their food choices for the better somewhere between the 7th and 20th years of the study were 61% less likely to be diagnosed with a later cardiovascular disease compared to participants who chose more foods harmful.

“I’m not surprised that consuming more plant-based foods would benefit cardiovascular health,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist and author of 2-day diet for diabetesWith She explains that a plant-eating pattern not only means that your meals will be low in saturated fats that promote inflammation, but increases your intake of antioxidants as well as fiber.

“Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can soothe inflammation – a trigger of chronic diseases,” she continues. “In addition, fiber-rich diets have been shown to have a positive impact on both blood lipids and intestinal health, which, in turn, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in the future.”

Also, look at a major effect of drinking beer on heart disease, says a new study.

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The second study by the AHA consisted of 123,330 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were not living with heart disease. The women completed nutrition questionnaires over 15 years where the authors scored based on how much they followed the Portfolio Diet, a plan designed for cholesterol-lowering plant foods (including plant proteins such as soy, beans and tofu, and fiber-soluble foods). such as oats, barley, okra, eggplant, apples and berries).

Findings, which were published in Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that women who frequently adhered to the Portfolio Diet were 17% less likely to develop heart failure, 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, and 11% less likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease.

“We also found a dose response in our study, which means you can start small by adding a portfolio Diet component at the same time and gain more heart health benefits while adding more ingredients, “said Andrea J. Glenn, MSc, RD, lead author of the study and doctoral student at the University of Toronto in a press release.

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Last month, the American Academy of Neurology announced that even minimal rations of colorful, plant-based foods — including strawberries, berries, and oranges — may have the ability to reduce the risk of cognitive decline by 20%.

Thanks to certain types of flavonoids (a class of plant compounds that offer powerful antioxidant effects), cognitive impairment was reduced by 24% (seen in those who consumed more red, purple and blue foods, such as cherries and blueberries) and 38% – which equates to being three to four years younger than your actual age – among volunteers who ate orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

“People in our study who did their best over time ate an average of at least half a serving a day with foods like orange juice, oranges, peppers, celery, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, apples and pears,” said study author Walter Willett. , MD, DrPH, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard, in a press release. “And it’s never too late to start because we saw those protective relationships if people were consuming flavonoids in their diet 20 years ago, or if they started including them recently.”

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Researchers from the UK analyzed data from 11 clinical trials (each study lasted an average of 23 weeks) that examined the results of following a plant-based diet compared to other diets. According to their findings, published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, a plant-based plan (or sometimes a vegan) had physical and psychological benefits for those living with type 2 diabetes.

For example, fasting blood glucose levels “fell more significantly” among participants who ate little or no animal-based products, while their depressive symptoms “improved significantly.”

“These findings make a lot of sense,” says Palinski-Wade. “If you have high blood glucose levels, a plant-based diet can have a positive impact on intestinal health.” The reason: Many plant foods (such as onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas) are packed with prebiotic fiber, a form of dietary fiber that feeds the “friendly” bacteria that live in the digestive system.

“The metabolism of these compounds releases beneficial short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, along with improving insulin sensitivity, which ultimately improves blood sugar levels,” she explains.

And as a result, avoiding high and low blood sugar fluctuations will help you control your emotions as well. “Since blood glucose regulation and intestinal health can have a direct impact on mood, a diet that balances blood glucose can also lead to mood improvements,” adds Palinski-Wade.

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