New Study Links Plant-Based Diets With Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, also found that diets richer in animal products and refined carbohydrates increased the risk of death from heart disease by up to 32 percent.

Aug. 21, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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A new study pub­lished in the Journal of the American Heart Association con­cluded that peo­ple who con­sumed a mostly plant-based diet were less likely to develop heart dis­ease and to die from it than those who ate a diet rich in meat and refined car­bo­hy­drates.

The study con­cluded that not all veg­e­tar­ian and plant-based diets were equally ben­e­fi­cial. Greater ben­e­fits were observed in par­tic­i­pants who adhered to health­ier ver­sions of veg­e­tar­ian and plant-based diets although even a con­sid­er­ably unhealthy plant-based diet went some way to reduc­ing the risk of heart dis­ease and death.

Although our study did not have data on olive oil intake, based on prior lit­er­a­ture, we believe that incor­po­ra­tion of healthy plant fats, such as olive oil, in an over­all plant-based diet may pro­vide ben­e­fits for car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.- Hyunju Kim, Johns Hopkins University

Four dif­fer­ent types of diets were assessed dur­ing the study. These were an over­all plant-based diet, one based pri­mar­ily on healthy plants such as green veg­eta­bles, an entirely veg­e­tar­ian diet and a fourth diet which included more unhealthy plant-based meals includ­ing starches such as pota­toes and processed foods.

Results of the study indi­cated that diets richer in ani­mal prod­ucts and refined car­bo­hy­drates increased the risk of death from heart dis­ease by up to 32 per­cent and par­tic­i­pants who con­sumed more ani­mal pro­duce and refined carbs were 18 per­cent to 25 per­cent more likely to die of all causes than those who adhered most closely to a plant-based or veg­e­tar­ian diet.

See Also: Plant-Based Diet News

The research team found that par­tic­i­pants who ate the most plant-based foods were 16 per­cent less likely to develop heart fail­ure or have a non-fatal heart attack or stroke than those who ate the least plants.

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Our results pro­vide fur­ther evi­dence of rea­sons for indi­vid­u­als to fol­low diets rel­a­tively higher in plant foods and rel­a­tively lower in ani­mal foods (par­tic­u­larly red and processed meats),” Hyunju Kim, lead author and research fel­low at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Olive Oil Times. Specifically, con­sum­ing healthy plant foods (fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, legumes, and nuts) appears to be impor­tant for heart health.”

In this gen­eral U.S. pop­u­la­tion, higher adher­ence to diets higher in plant foods and lower in ani­mal foods was asso­ci­ated with a lower risk of inci­dent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease mor­tal­ity and all-cause mor­tal­ity,” she added.

Kim also endorsed the Mediterranean diet say­ing, we believe that the Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet. Plant-based diets and Mediterranean diets are sim­i­lar in that they empha­size the intake of plant foods (fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, legumes, nuts), and limit the intake of red and processed meats.”

Although olive oil intake was not assessed dur­ing the study Kim com­mented on its health ben­e­fits say­ing, pre­vi­ous stud­ies which included olive oil as a healthy plant food in an over­all plant-based diet or a veg­e­tar­ian diet found a lower risk of Type 2 dia­betes, coro­nary heart dis­ease and all-cause mor­tal­ity.”

Olive oil is an impor­tant com­po­nent of the Mediterranean diet, and high olive oil intake has been asso­ci­ated to a lower risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease,” she added. Although our study did not have data on olive oil intake, based on prior lit­er­a­ture, we believe that incor­po­ra­tion of healthy plant fats, such as olive oil, in an over­all plant-based diet may pro­vide ben­e­fits for car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.”

The study observed the eat­ing habits of 12,168 peo­ple aged between 45 and 64 years old; none of whom had heart dis­ease at the start of the study. During the 30 year study period 5,436 par­tic­i­pants died with 1,565 of these deaths occur­ring as a result of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Participants who fol­lowed one of the study’s three health­ier diets con­sumed an aver­age of 4.1 to 4.8 serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles per day and ate less than one serv­ing of red or processed meat.

People who adhered most closely to the unhealthy plant-based diet con­sumed less fruit and veg­eta­bles with a daily aver­age of 2.3 serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles a day and 1.2 serv­ings of red or processed meat.

Plant-based diets seem to be ris­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, and our study pro­vides more evi­dence sug­gest­ing that con­sum­ing a plant-based diet can be good for your heart health,” Casey Rebholz, a co-author and a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore told Reuters,

Earlier this year the Mediterranean diet was ranked as the Best Plant-Based Diet” and hailed as the Best Diet Overall” by the U.S. News and World Report, which took var­i­ous fac­tors into account includ­ing; nutri­tional value, safety and poten­tial to pre­vent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.





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  1. David Wrightsmith says:

    Unfortunate that olive oil dam­ages your arter­ies. Just eat whole plants for the best heart heath!

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