As it is generally accepted that veggies lower total cholesterol levels, vegetarian diets might be the answer for patients struggling with cardiovascular disease
More than 50 studies were compiled into the latest review on how plant-based diets affect the health of our metabolism and cardiovascular system.
Speaking in terms of “bad cholesterol” linked to coronary heart disease and “good cholesterol” that protects the system, scientists suggested that high cholesterol levels can be reduced if keeping a proper diet and working out regularly.
The study findings were published in the Nutrition Reviews journal, as the research was led by Dr. Yoko Yokoyama, from Keio University in Fujisawa, Japan, Dr. Susan Levin, nutritionist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington and Dr. Neal Barnard, from the G. Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The scientists reviewed 49 studies linking vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and vegan diets to plasma lipids. In the context of the review, the term “vegetarian diets” refers to diets that only include meat products less than once per month. As a result, vegetarian diets were all associated with considerable lower total cholesterol levels.
“The triglyceride levels were 5.8 mg/dL higher in the clinical research studies and 6.5 mg/dL lower in the observational studies. We often see this since new dietary changes, like a vegan diet that’s naturally higher in carbohydrates, increases lipid levels. It stabilizes over time,” Dr. Levin explained.
Moreover, vegetarians also have better BMIs, healthier body weights, regulated metabolisms, lower heart disease incidence and higher overall health levels.
“The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet, like weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol, are well documented in controlled studies,” adds Levin.
According to the researchers of this study, a change into our diets is highly beneficial when introduced as early in life as possible, in order to maintain optimal health levels, as well as boost longevity.
For the future, Dr. Levin and team will continue to promote healthy nutrition, with the target of preventing heart disease and “measure the economic impact of having more physicians and primary care specialists talk to their patients about nutrition.”