Can a vegetarian or vegan diet lower cholesterol?

Researchers have found that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet at a young age can potentially reduce your risk of developing heart disease due to clogged arteries. Freepik

In recent years, the vegetarian and/or vegan diet has become increasingly popular.

Vegetarianism and veganism have many adherents for a variety of reasons, many of which are health-related.

A recent study reveals that a vegetarian or vegan diet can lead to lower blood lipid and cholesterol levels.

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According to the research, which assessed data from studies published since 1982, plant-based diets may be an important factor in reducing the number of clogged arteries.

This would involve reducing the risk of blood vessels and heart diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.

Also Read: Happy Meal: How Eating Greens Can Chase All The Bruises

What does the study say?

The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal, looked at how a vegetarian or vegan diet affected all types of cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB), a blood protein believed to be a reliable indicator of unhealthy body fats. body and cholesterol levels.

Researchers have found that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet at a young age can potentially reduce your risk of developing heart disease due to clogged arteries.

The study found a 14% decrease in all artery-clogging lipoproteins as shown by apoliprotein B (apoB) while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This is equivalent to a third of the effects of using cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins, and five years on a plant-based diet is said to result in a 7% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. In terms of reducing fat and cholesterol levels, statin therapy outperforms plant-based diets.

Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Rigshospitalet, said: “If people start eating vegetarian or vegan at an early age, the potential for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease caused by clogged arteries is significant.”

The researchers found that this was one-third of the results from using statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The study was carried out by Dr Emilie Westerlin Kjeldsen, another doctor from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, Caroline Amalie Koch, a medical student, and Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, the hospital’s chief medical officer. A total of 2,372 participants from 30 trials published between 1982 and 2022 were examined by the researchers.

They compared the effects of omnivorous diets with vegetarian or vegan diets on blood levels of all forms of cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, and apoliprotein B, a protein that helps the transport of fats and cholesterol. . According to the researchers, no such studies have been published since 2017, and none have specifically looked at the effects of nutrition on apoB concentrations or addressed the influence of continent, age, location, etc. body mass index and health status.

The research participants either maintained an omnivorous diet (which includes meat and dairy) or adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet. The diets were followed for an average of 29 weeks, ranging from 10 days to 5 years.

“We should have a varied and plant-rich diet, not too much, and quench our thirst with water,” said Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Rigshospitalet, adding: “We have seen significant effects of vegetarian diets and vegans and people ranging from normal weight to obese.

Independent quoted Dr Duane Mellor, senior lecturer and registered dietitian at Aston Medical School, saying: “If anyone is considering making a dietary change, it may be helpful to discuss it with a medical professional and can -be a dietitian so that it is designed to be nutritionally adequate, help with their health problem and, ideally, be enjoyable.

Some may find it easier to follow a Mediterranean-style diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy products, with only small amounts of meat, according to Tracy Parker, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation. .

Also read: Explained: Is your keto diet healthy?

What is bad cholesterol and how does it affect our body?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cholesterol in your body is LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also known as “bad” cholesterol.

While HDL cholesterol, sometimes called “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol from the blood and brings it back to the liver. It is then eliminated from the body by the liver.

LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels if your body has too much of it. This buildup, known as “plaque,” has been linked to health problems like heart disease and stroke.

Your risk of heart disease and stroke can be reduced by having high HDL cholesterol.

With contributions from agencies

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