Diets low in foods from animal sources and high in plant-based foods could reduce cardiovascular disease risk and death by a large amount, research finds.
The study reviewed 10,000 American adults’ dietary intake data over 29 years.
They found that higher consumption of plant-based foods and less animal-sourced foods not only was linked to better heart health but also decreased the risk of dying from any type of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Overall, compared to participants who consumed the lowest amount of plant-based foods, those who ate the highest amount of plant foods had a:
- 32 percent reduced risk of death caused by any type of cardiovascular disease,
- 25 percent reduced risk of dying from any type of disease,
- and a 16 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.
Dr Casey M. Rebholz, the study’s leader, said:
“While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease.
Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet.
There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods.
These findings are pretty consistent with previous findings about other dietary patterns, including the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, which emphasize the same food items.”
Dr Mariell Jessup, the chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, said:
“The American Heart Association recommends eating a mostly plant-based diet, provided the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium (salt), cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated and trans fats.
For example, French fries or cauliflower pizza with cheese are plant based but are low in nutritional value and are loaded with sodium (salt).
Unprocessed foods, like fresh fruit, vegetables and grains are good choices.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in Journal of the American Heart Association (Kim et al., 2019).