Consuming Some Animal Products Does Not Undermine Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

Newly published research from the University of Warwick shows that plant-based diets, such as Mediterranean diet, can lower cardiovascular risks even if they include a moderate amount of animal products.
Aug. 10, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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A plant-based diet can still achieve the goals of keep­ing blood pres­sure within a healthy range and reduc­ing over­all car­dio­vas­cu­lar risks, even if some meat and dairy are included, researchers from the University of Warwick have shown.

The researchers sys­tem­at­i­cally reviewed pre­vi­ous stud­ies about the impact of seven major plant-based diets on car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, includ­ing the Mediterranean diet.

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The researchers ana­lyzed 41 stud­ies involv­ing 8,416 par­tic­i­pants and found that most diets high in fiber, fruits and veg­eta­bles low­ered blood pres­sure, with the DASH diet hav­ing the most notable effects.

A blood pres­sure reduc­tion of the scale caused by a higher con­sump­tion of plant-based diets, even with lim­ited ani­mal prod­ucts, would result in a 14 per­cent reduc­tion in strokes, a nine per­cent reduc­tion in heart attacks and a seven per­cent reduc­tion in over­all mor­tal­ity,” said Joshua Gibbs, the lead author of the study and a stu­dent at the University of Warwick.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant find­ing as it high­lights that com­plete erad­i­ca­tion of ani­mal prod­ucts is not nec­es­sary to pro­duce reduc­tions and improve­ments in blood pres­sure,” he added. Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one.”


The researchers empha­sized that diets that exclude any meat or dairy were already known to lower blood pres­sure.

Their fea­si­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity are, how­ever, lim­ited,” the study reads. Until now, it has not been known whether a com­plete absence of ani­mal prod­ucts is nec­es­sary in plant-based dietary pat­terns to achieve a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fi­cial effect on blood pres­sure.”

According to the researchers, their find­ings could have last­ing effects. Previous stud­ies have shown that an increased con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits could avert up to 10.8 mil­lion deaths glob­ally every year.



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