In a new review study, researchers found that vegetarian, especially vegan, diets are linked to better heart health.
In the study, the team analyzed several clinical studies and observational studies.
They found strong and consistent evidence that plant-based diets can prevent and reverse artery disease atherosclerosis.
In addition, plant-based diets can decrease other risk factors of heart disease, such as blood pressure, blood lipids, and weight.
The review found that a plant-based diet could reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 40%.
The diet can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%. It can fully or partially open blocked arteries in up to 91% of patients.
The diet can reduce the risk of high blood pressure by 34%. It is linked to 29 mg/dL and 23 mg/dL lower total cholesterol and LDL-C levels, respectively, compared with non-vegetarian diets.
Finally, the diet is linked to weight loss.
The team says that a plant-based diet has the power to not only prevent heart disease but also manage and sometimes even reverse it. This is something no drug has ever done.
The review notes that a healthy diet and lifestyle reduces the risk for a heart attack by 81-94%, while medications can only reduce the risk by 20-30%.
The researchers explain that plant-based diets benefit heart health because they’re rich in fiber and phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins, and lycopene.
Phytonutrients can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
On the contrary, animal products are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, heme iron, and environmental pollutants and can harm heart health.
The lead author of the study is Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Physicians Committee director of clinical research.
The study is published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.
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