The heart is a vital organ in our body. It’s like the engine of a car, and just like a car, it needs the right fuel to work well.
Different foods we eat can either help or harm our heart. Heart diseases, also known as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), are common among people who eat lots of unhealthy food.
Now, scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia, believe they have found something that could help.
How the Right Foods Could Help
The team of researchers looked at studies involving people at a high risk of getting heart disease.
They found out that those who followed a vegetarian diet, meaning they ate mostly veggies, fruits, grains, and avoided meat, seemed to be healthier. Specifically, these people had lower bad cholesterol, less sugar in their blood, and weighed less.
The study titled “Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Cardiometabolic Risk in People With or at High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” is quite a mouthful.
But in simpler terms, the researchers looked at various studies conducted over 22 years in different parts of the world, including the United States, the Czech Republic, Italy, Iran, Korea, New Zealand, and China.
They found that the folks who ate a vegetarian diet showed positive health improvements. On average, those on a vegetarian diet saw their bad cholesterol drop by about 13 units when compared to their regular diet.
Not All Veggies are Equal
However, it’s important to note that not all vegetarian diets are the same. Some vegetarian foods are high in calories, sugars, and salt, especially those that are pre-packaged or bought from fast-food restaurants.
Eating too many of these could actually increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Just because a meal is vegetarian doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy – it still matters what’s in the food and how it’s prepared.
For example, eating a lot of deep-fried vegetables or foods rich in trans fats (a type of fat that is bad for the heart) and salt can be as harmful as eating a non-vegetarian diet. The main thing is to eat a wide variety of wholesome, unprocessed plant foods.
Vegetarian Diets and Weight Loss
Interestingly, the researchers found that the people at high risk of heart disease who went vegetarian not only lowered their cholesterol but also lost weight – about 4 kg (nearly 9 pounds) on average.
This is a big deal because being overweight is another risk factor for heart disease.
Even more surprising, those who were allowed to eat as much as they wanted on the vegetarian diet lost more weight than those who were told to limit their food intake.
This might suggest that a vegetarian diet could help with weight loss without having to count calories.
To Veggie or Not to Veggie?
In conclusion, the Australian researchers found that a well-balanced, unprocessed vegetarian diet could offer significant benefits, especially for people at risk of heart diseases.
These include lowering bad cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, and helping with weight loss.
But remember, just because a diet is vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s always healthy. So if you’re thinking about going veggie, it’s important to do it right.
Choose a variety of fresh, whole foods and limit the processed stuff. After all, the heart of the matter is about eating well for a healthier heart!
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about berry that can prevent cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and natural blood pressure controllers: 12 foods that lower blood pressure.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about diet to fight diabetic eye damage, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open.
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