Plant-based diets once again linked to lower CVD risk

People who ate the most plant-based foods in a recent Journal of the American Heart Association study were 32% less likely than their counterparts to die from heart disease later down the line.

The study, spearheaded by Casey M. Rebholz, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, looked at food intake information from more than 10,000 middle-aged Americans, who were monitored from 1987 through 2016 and were CVD-free at baseline. Rebholz et al. categorized participants by how much of their diet was plant-based versus animal-based.

Compared to people who consumed a mostly animal-based diet, those who ate the most plant-based foods were 16% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and other conditions. They were also 32% less likely to die from CVD and 25% less likely to die from any cause.

“Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet,” Rebholz said in a release. “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.”

Rebholz said her team’s findings are “pretty consistent” with those of prior studies, which have proven the efficacy of regimens like the DASH diet.

“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,” Rebholz said.