Vegan diets could benefit heart and metabolic health, study finds

Credit: Hermes Rivera/Unsplash.

Scientists from Copenhagen University Hospital and elsewhere found vegan diets may benefit the heart and metabolic health of people with type 2 diabetes or overweight.

There is an increased focus on climate change and carbon footprint, and in parallel with this, the interest in plant-based diets and their health effects has increased over the past decade.

In the current review study, researchers aimed to examine the effect of vegan diet intake (longer than 12 weeks) on heart and metabolic risk factors in people with overweight or type 2 diabetes.

A vegan diet is based on plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans do not eat foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs.

A vegan diet may be healthy as it often has higher fiber and lower cholesterol than an omnivorous diet.

Some studies find a vegan diet lowers the risk of heart disease and premature death, helps manage type 2 diabetes, and reduces the risk of cancer.

The current review included 11 studies with 796 participants.

The team found that compared with control diets, vegan diets reduced body weight (-4.1 kg), body mass index (BMI) (-1.38 kg/m2), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c ), total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol, ‘bad’ cholesterol).

The researchers found no strong effect of vegan diets on blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol, ‘good’ cholesterol), and triglycerides.

They conclude that adhering to vegan diets for at least 12 weeks may be effective in people with overweight or type 2 diabetes to get a meaningful decrease in body weight and improve blood sugar.

Some of the health benefits may be contributed to differences in the macronutrient composition and energy intake in the vegan versus control diets.

Therefore, more research is needed to examine the links between vegan diets and heart and metabolic health.

The research was published in Obesity Reviews and conducted by Anne-Ditte Termannsen et al.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.