Good news for healthy eaters. A plant-centered diet as a young adult is associated with a much lower risk of heart disease in midlife, according to a long-term study.
Another study found that eating more plant-based foods is linked to a lower risk of heart attacks in post-menopausal women. Both young adults and postmenopausal women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease when they increased their intake of healthy plant foods. Some examples of good-for-you foods include whole grains, fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts, and vegetable fats like olive oil.
Participants in the first study included 2,509 Black and 2,437 white adults. Those who ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods and fewer poorly rated animal products were 52% less likely to develop heart disease.
The authors noted that a plant-centered diet isn’t necessarily vegetarian––people can choose among plant foods that are as close to natural as possible, meaning they aren’t highly processed. You can also add in animal products from time-to-time including non-fried poultry, non-fried fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy.
Because this study is observational, it cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship between diet and heart disease.
- Andrea J. Glenn, Kenneth Lo, David J. A. Jenkins (2021) Relationship Between a Plant‐Based Dietary Portfolio and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Findings From the Women’s Health Initiative Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of the American Heart Association DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.121.021515. Retrieved from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.121.021515
- Yuni Choi, Nicole Larson, Lyn M. Steffen (2021). Plant‐Centered Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood. Journal of the American Heart Association. DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.120.020718. Retrieved from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.120.020718