Plant-rich diet decreases risk of heart disease

A plant-rich diet is heart-healthy at any age, according to two studies published Aug. 4 by the American Heart Association. Both articles looked at vegetable consumption and found that both young adults and postmenopausal women who ate more vegetable-based foods had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

The American Association recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts, legumes, and vegetable oils. Already saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks should have their consumption reduced and limited.

Street fair displays vegetables for sale (credit: Pexels)

One of the articles examined whether long-term consumption of a plant-centered diet in early adulthood is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age.

The study looked at diet and the occurrence of heart disease in 4,946 adults. Participants were 18 to 30 years of age at baseline and had no cardiovascular disease. 2,509 were black and 2,437 white, being 54.9% women.

Participants underwent eight exams in 32 years of follow-up. Analyzes included laboratory tests, physical measurements, medical histories and assessment of lifestyle factors.

Those who scored higher ate a variety of beneficial foods, while those who scored lower ate more adverse foods. Overall, the highest values ​​corresponded to a nutritionally rich, plant-centered diet.

During the 32 years of research, 289 participants developed cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart-related chest pain or clogged arteries anywhere in the body).

People scoring in the top 20% were 52% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Participants who improved their diet quality during the study were 61% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared with participants whose diet quality declined.

“People can choose between plant foods that are as natural as possible, not highly processed. Individuals may include animal products sparingly from time to time, such as unfried poultry and fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products,” said Yuni Choi, postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology and community health and lead author of the study, in a press release.

In the other study, researchers assessed whether diets that included plant-based foods in the American portfolio of healthy foods — produced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — reduced “bad” cholesterol levels and were associated with fewer disease events. cardiovascular diseases. The analyzed group consisted of 123,330 postmenopausal American women over 15 years.

The “Portfolio Diet” includes nuts; vegetable protein from soy, beans or tofu; viscous soluble fiber from oats, barley, okra, eggplant, oranges, apples and berries; plant sterols from fortified foods and monounsaturated fats found in olive and canola oil and avocados; it also includes limited consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol.

Women who followed the diet best were 11% less likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease, 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, and 17% less likely to develop heart failure. There was no association between following the portfolio diet and the occurrence of stroke or atrial fibrillation.

The researchers believe the results highlight potential opportunities to reduce heart disease.

Do you believe your diet includes enough vegetables and plants to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease? Let us know in the comments!

ARTICLES Journal of the American Heart Association: doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.020718 and doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.021515

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