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Consume plant-derived foods to keep your heart healthy

Consume plant-derived foods to keep your heart healthy

The consumption of plant-based diet is associated with improved cardiovascular health, according to a new review published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

The study was conducted by Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and colleagues to determine the relevance of plant-based diets for cardiovascular health.

Around the globe, cardiovascular disease contributes to 46 percent of non-communicable disease deaths, or 17.5 million deaths in a year.

Plant-based diets are beneficial for heart health because they’re rich in fiber and phytonutrients–like carotenoids, anthocyanins, and lycopene–which reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Animal products are packed with cholesterol, saturated fat,  environmental pollutants and heme iron that are harmful to heart health.

Researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine looked at multiple clinical trials and observational studies and found strong and consistent evidence that plant-based dietary patterns can prevent and reverse atherosclerosis and decrease other markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, including blood pressure, blood lipids, and weight.

Based on the study, the researchers found that a plant-based diet:

  • Reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 40 percent.
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 40 percent.
  • Fully or partially opens blocked arteries in up to 91 percent of patients.
  • Reduces the risk of hypertension by 34 percent.
  • Is associated with 29 mg/dL and 23 mg/dL lower total cholesterol and LDL-C levels, respectively, compared with non-vegetarian diets.
  • Is associated with weight loss.
  • Have also been shown an effective treatment method for diabetes management.

“A plant-based diet has the power to not only prevent heart disease but also manage and sometimes even reverse it–something no drug has ever done,” says Kahleova.

The review notes that a healthy diet and lifestyle reduces the risk of a heart attack by 81-94 percent, while medications can only reduce the risk by 20-30 percent.

“Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. This study proves it doesn’t have to be,” says Dr. Kahleova.

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Source: With inputs from Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases

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