People who usually follow Plant‐Based Diets (a diet which is mostly plant-based and excludes meat, eggs, dairy products, and all other animal-derived ingredients) have a reduced risk of having a heart attack than people who follow a consume lots of meat and refined carbohydrates, revealed a study published in the Journal of American Heart Association.
The study showed that diets that emphasize higher intakes of plant foods and lower intakes of animal foods are associated with a lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease mortality, and all‐cause mortality in a general US adult population.
Furthermore, it supported the consumption of healthful vegan diets, diets higher in nutrient‐dense plant foods and lower in refined carbohydrates and animal foods. Consumption of this diet was found to be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all‐cause mortality, but not incident cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies have documented the cardiometabolic health benefits of plant‐based diets; however, these studies were conducted in selected study populations that had narrow generalizability.
In the present study, the researchers followed 12,168 middle-aged adults over three decades, assessing their eating habits at several points. During the study, 5,436 participants died, including 1,565 who died from cardiovascular disease.
Compared to people who most closely followed a plant-based or vegetarian diet, those with diets heavier in animal products and refined carbs were 31% to 32% more likely to die of heart disease and 18% to 25% more likely to die of all causes during the study.
People who didn’t eat a lot of plant-based meals were also 16% more likely to develop heart failure or have non-fatal heart attacks or strokes than the participants who ate the most plants.
“Plant-based diets seem to be rising in popularity, and our study provides more evidence suggesting that consuming a plant-based diet can be good for your heart health,” said Casey Rebholz, senior author of the study and a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
“People should ensure that they are consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit their intake of red and processed meat,” Rebholz said by email.
At the start of the study, participants were 45-64 years old and free of heart disease. Those who most closely adhered to a plant-based or vegetarian diet over the next 30 years were more likely to be women, white, high school graduates, and physically active. They were less likely to be obese, smokers, or to have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Vegetarians and those who ate the greatest proportion of healthy plant-based foods were also 16% less likely than those who ate the least to be diagnosed with heart disease during the follow-up.
But not all vegetarian and plant-based diets were equally beneficial, researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
They looked at four types of diets with regard to the type and amount of plant content: an overall plant-based diet; one based primarily on healthy plants like green vegetables; an entirely vegetarian diet; and a fourth diet that included more unhealthy plant-based meals, based on starches like potatoes, and processed foods.
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