A recent study suggests that plant-based diets may outperform low-fat diets in terms of lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Plant-Based Diets Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease And Stroke
Saturated fat, which is mostly found in animal products, has long been thought to be detrimental for the heart because it raises poor LDL cholesterol.
The current study, which followed over 5,100 Americans, discovered that persons who ate low-saturated-fat diets had lower LDL cholesterol readings.
However, the study revealed that this did not translate into a decreased risk of heart disease or stroke.
People who ate a lot of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts, on the other hand, had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to experts, the findings do not imply that LDL cholesterol or saturated fat is insignificant. People who consume a lot of plant foods have lower LDL cholesterol levels, and their diets are frequently low in saturated fat because they restrict their consumption of meat and dairy.
However, according to research author Yuni Choi, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, concentrating on saturated fat might miss many factors of food quality.
She believes that a more holistic approach to eating is likely to be beneficial for heart health.
Choi will report the findings at the annual conference of the American Society for Nutrition, which is being hosted online this week. Studies presented at conferences are typically regarded as preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed publication.
The findings are the outcome of a long-running heart health research that began enrolling young U.S. people in the 1980s. Over 32 years, 135 individuals acquired coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaques form in the arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart. Another 92 people had a stroke.
Choi and her colleagues evaluated all research participants’ diet histories, awarding them ratings based on how many plant foods they regularly consumed and how much saturated fat they consumed.
Generally, individuals who ate more vegetables and those who avoided saturated fat had lower LDL cholesterol. However, only plant-rich diets were associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.
On average, each incremental gain in those scores reduced the risk of heart disease by 19%. Meanwhile, the chance of having a stroke has decreased by 29%.
This was after taking into consideration characteristics such as smoking, body weight, and income, and education levels.
Plant-based does not have to mean vegetarian or vegan, which may be excellent news for burger fans.
Filling 70% to 80% of your plate with veggies, legumes, whole grains, and the like is a good starting point, according to lead researcher David Jacobs, a professor of public health at the University of Minnesota.
It’s vital to eat such items in their natural state, rather than buying excessively processed ones, according to Jacobs. Variety is also important.
People want a vibrant, elegant dish, according to Jacobs.
Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study, agreed that a plant-based diet is the best strategy to improve heart health.
According to Freeman, who leads cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, animal products are not supposed to be included in every meal.
Instead, he advises patients to eat a variety of plant foods in their original state.
Freeman recommends eating the avocado rather than using avocado oil.
He emphasized that the current study did not rule out the importance of saturated fat. And, according to Freeman, if people focus on developing a plant-centric diet, they will likely consume relatively modest levels of fat.
Why are plant-based diets so heart-healthy? According to the experts, it is not due to a single magical element.
Such diets are often abundant in fiber, unsaturated fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, but Jacobs believes the rationale may go beyond those components.
He pointed out that, unlike mammals, plants have a plethora of self-generated compounds that protect them from the environment. And the so-called bioactive chemicals may be beneficial to individuals who consume them.
According to Choi, the researchers also aim to investigate how different diets alter the gut microbiome, which is a huge collection of bacteria and other organisms that live in the gut and perform a variety of critical tasks.
She believes that plant-based diets may help the heart in part due to impacts on the gut microbiota.