Eating a diet with more plant foods can lower the risk of heart disease, according to two studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
In both studies, the results showed that eating more plant foods lowered the risk of heart disease in both young adults and post-menopausal women.
Less Likely to Develop Cardiovascular Disease
In one study, the researchers analzyed the diet and the occurrence of heart disease in 4,946 adults enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. The volunteers were 18- to 30-years-old and free of cardiovascular disease when they enrolled in the program. They had eight follow-up exams from 1987-88 to 2015-16. They were not instructed to eat any kind of certain foods.
From this study, the researchers found that the participants who ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods were 52 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Factors like age, sex, race, etc. were considered in the analysis.
They also found that participants who improved their diet to eating more beneficial plant foods (and less unhealthy animal products), at around the ages of 25 to 50, were 61 percent less likely to develop subsequent cardiovascular disease, compared to those whose diet quality declined.
Note this study was an observational study, so no cause-and-effect relationship between diet and heart disease can be stated.
The Portfolio Diet
The second study looked at 123,330 post-menopausal women in the U.S. who followed a “Portfolio Diet.” Portfolio Diet consists of plant-based foods to lower “bad” cholesterol levels. Its health claimed has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The results from this study showed that women on the Portfolio Diet were 11 percent less likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease, 14 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 17 percent less likely to develop heart failure.
Eat More Plant Foods
Both of these studies show that encouraging people to eat more plant foods can help lower the risk of heart disease.
You can actually start small by adding some plant foods. Over time, you can add more plant foods as you reap the heart-health benefits.
For example, the Portfolio Diet consists of nuts; plant protein from soy, beans or tofu; viscous soluble fiber from oats, barley, okra, eggplant, oranges, apples and berries; plant sterols from enriched foods and mono-unsaturated fats found in olive and canola oil and avocadoes. Take any ingredients and start adding them to your diet over time.
TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: More plant foods in your diet can help lower the risk of heart disease. You can start gradually, adding plant foods you like into your diet. Over time, keep adding more plant foods to increase variety. Your will reap the health benefits of plant foods and your heart will thank you.
Journal source: Journal of the American Heart Association
Plant-Centered Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood
Relationship Between a Plant-Based Dietary Portfolio and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Findings From the Women’s Health Initiative Prospective Cohort Study