Plant-Based Diet Is, In Fact, Better For Your Heart

With all the talk about the keto diet (and its dieting trend predecessors) the science should be able to speak for itself.  And this week, the science appears to indicate that eating more plants and less meat is definitely better for your heart.  A new study simply advises that an herbivorous diet has the potential to reduce cardiovascular risk and early death. 

Lead study author Casey Rebholz notes that a plant-based diet—or one that focuses far more on consumption of plant-based foods than animal-based—might be associated with a 16 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, this could also contribute to a 25 percent lower risk of early death. 

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assistant professor describes, “Plant-based diets emphasize higher intakes of plant foods and lower intakes of animal foods. Foods derived from plants include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.”

She also advises, “Animal foods include meat, eggs, dairy, and fish or seafood. In this study, we did not define plant-based diets on the basis of complete exclusion of animal foods from the diet…but rather ranked individuals according to their relative frequency of intake of these foods.”

The study examined data taken from 12,168 middle-aged adults who live in the United States and participated in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.  The study collected information between 1987 and 2016; none of the adults had cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. 

During the research, scientists looked closer at each of their diets and then their heart health several years later.  Analysis of this data including assessment for stroke and heart failure, as well as other potential events generally related to cardiovascular disease.  Data analysis revealed those who adhered more closely to diets based mostly on plant-based foods achieved a 16 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest adherence.  This also resulted in a 32 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and up to 25 percent lower risk of early death from any cause.  

It is important to clarify that the study was slightly limited, so more research is necessary to determined not just a relationship but a more definitive causal link.