Some plant-based diets much better for cardiovascular health than others

Not all plant-based diets have the same positive impact on a person’s cardiovascular health, according to new findings presented ahead of ESC Congress 2020. Smart, healthy choices are still necessary for the full benefits of such a diet to be realized.   

The researchers noted that some plant-based/vegetarian diets include healthier options such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and these diets can have a life-changing impact on cardiovascular health. Diets that replace meat with a mix of refined grains, potatoes and sweets, on the other hand, may not be nearly as beneficial. 

The study tracked how different diets impacted the cardiovascular health of 146 obese patients over a ten-year period. Overall, men who consumed more plant-based foods were less likely to have high blood pressure or high blood sugar. While a similar trend was identified among women, it “did not reach statistical significance.”

Also, healthy plant-based options were associated with normal blood pressure, blood lipids and blood sugar. Unhealthy plant-based options were associated with high blood pressure, high blood lipids and high blood sugar.

“Eating less meat is beneficial for heart health, particularly when it is replaced with nutritious plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil,” lead author Matina Kouvari, BSc, of Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, said in a statement.

Kouvari added that women tend to eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based products than men. However, she said, “our study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and ensure better health status.”

ESC Congress 2020, which is completely digital due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to take place from August 29 to Sept. 1. More information is available here.