New evidence shows that people who eat plant-based meals regularly are less likely to develop heart complications regardless of their age.
Two different studies have found that younger people and middle-aged women who eat plant-based foods frequently are less likely to have severe cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and heart disease.
The first study, titled “A Plant-Centered Diet and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Young to Mid-Adulthood,” found that young adults following a plant-based diet were less likely to develop heart disease.
Academics from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health analyzed the dietary habits of nearly 5,000 18- to 30-year-olds to determine the top causes of heart disease.
During the study, participants were allowed to consume whatever they wanted and were rated eight times, with their results remaining anonymous so as not to affect the overall result.
A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) system found that those on a healthy, balanced diet scored high, with those on a diet high in plant-based foods scored the highest.
The system gathered each person’s results by assessing how much of their diet could cause heart disease, for example, fried foods and red meats are more likely to cause cardiovascular complications than fruits and vegetables.
289 people who took part in the study developed severe heart problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or clogged arteries.
Chief author Dr. David E. Jacobs Jr. said, “Unlike existing nutritional quality assessments, which are usually based on a small number of food groups, APDQS explicitly measures the overall quality of nutrition in terms of 46 individual food groups and describes the total diet that the general population commonly consumes. “
Lead researcher Dr. Yuni Choi said, “A nutritious, plant-centered diet is beneficial for cardiovascular health.”
The second study found that middle-aged women who followed a plant-based meal known as the “portfolio diet” were also less likely to have critical heart problems.
Previous research studies have already found that this plant-based diet helps lower high cholesterol levels.
Nuts, tofu, eggplant, apples, and berries are foods that are commonly consumed by those following the portfolio diet.
Brown University scientists studied the heart health of 123,330 American women to assess which factors reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Participants, who were between 50 and 79 years old, also had to fill out nutrition questionnaires.
The results showed that older women who adopted the portfolio diet had an 11% lower risk of developing any form of heart disease and a 17% lower risk of heart failure.
Lead researcher Dr. John Sievenpiper said, “These results represent an important opportunity as people still have room to include more cholesterol-lowering plant-based foods in their diets.
“With even closer adherence to the portfolio’s nutritional pattern, one would expect an association with even fewer cardiovascular events, perhaps as much as with cholesterol-lowering drugs.”
He added, “Even so, an 11% reduction is clinically meaningful and would meet the minimum threshold of benefit for everyone.
“The results show that the portfolio diet offers heart health benefits.”
Both research studies were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.