Researchers from New York University have found that following a vegan diet can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease, particularly coronary artery disease, is often caused by the build-up of plaque in the heart’s primary blood vessels, which may lead to restricted blood flow, chest pain, or even a heart attack.
The researchers compared the effects of a vegan diet, which consists solely of plant-based foods, with the American Heart Association-Recommended Diet for heart disease patients.
This diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, non-tropical vegetable oils, minimal added sugars, and limited alcohol consumption.
The study involved 100 individuals with coronary artery disease, split into two groups.
One group followed a vegan diet for eight weeks, while the other group followed the American Heart Association-Recommended Diet.
The researchers observed the levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a marker indicative of major heart outcomes risk in coronary artery disease.
The vegan diet resulted in a substantial 32% reduction in hsCRP levels compared to the American Heart Association diet.
This held even after adjustments for age, race, baseline waist circumference, diabetes, and prior heart attacks.
Additionally, the vegan diet led to a 13% reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) compared to the American Heart Association diet.
A Balanced Diet for Heart Health
While a vegan diet shows promising results, it’s crucial to remember that vegetarian diets come in many forms, and one should ensure that all necessary nutrients are consumed.
As always, consulting a healthcare professional before making substantial diet changes is recommended.
A heart-healthy diet usually includes a mix of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (like fish, poultry, and beans), low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats (found in nuts, seeds, and olive oil). Specific examples include:
Fruits and vegetables: A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Whole grains: Foods like brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, pasta, and oats should replace refined grains like white bread and rice.
Lean proteins: Fish, skinless chicken or turkey, legumes, and tofu are excellent lean protein sources.
Low-fat dairy: Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are recommended.
Healthy fats: Incorporate foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil into your diet for beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Limit saturated and trans fats: Foods high in these fats, like fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, fried foods, and processed snacks, should be avoided or limited.
Limit added sugars: Choose foods and drinks with minimal to no added sugars.
Incorporating these foods and limiting unhealthy choices can help prevent heart disease and improve overall health.
The research, conducted by Binita Shah et al., is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.
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