Eating more plant-based foods may be related to better heart health

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    Eating mainly plant-based foods and less animal-based foods may be related to better heart health and a lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Magazine of the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association.

    "While you don't have to give up animal-derived foods altogether, our study suggests that eating a higher proportion of plant-based foods and a lower proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or another cardiovascular disease, "said lead researcher Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland.

    The researchers reviewed a database of information on food intake of more than 10,000 middle-aged American adults who were monitored from 1987 to 2016 and had no cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. They then classified the eating patterns of the participants by the proportion of plant-based foods they ate versus food of animal origin.

    People who ate the majority of plant-based foods in general had:

    16% less risk of having a cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and other conditions;
    32% less risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and
    A 25% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who consumed the least amount of plant-based foods.
    "Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on their diet. There may be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and less food from Animal origin". These findings are quite consistent with previous findings of other dietary patterns, including Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH diet, which emphasize the same foods, "said Rebholz.

    This is one of the first studies to examine the proportion of plant-based versus animal dietary patterns in the general population, Rebholz said. Previous studies have shown heart health benefits of plant-based diets, but only in specific populations of people, such as vegetarians or Seventh-day Adventists who eat a primarily vegan diet. According to the study, future research on plant-based diets should examine whether the quality of plant foods (healthy versus less healthy) affects cardiovascular disease and death risks.

    "The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet based primarily on vegetables, provided that the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium (salt), cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats that clog arteries. For example, French fries or "Cauliflower pizza with cheese is of vegetable origin but has a low nutritional value and is loaded with sodium (salt). Unprocessed foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains are good options, "said Mariell Jessup, MD, scientific and medical director of The American Heart Association.

    The study was observational, which means that it did not show cause and effect.

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