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FRIDAY, May 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Vegetarian and vegan diets lead to lower blood cholesterol and fat levels, according to a major new analysis of all clinical trial evidence published since 1982.
Compared to people on an omnivorous diet, those on a plant-based diet experienced an average reduction in total cholesterol levels of 7% from levels measured at the start of the studies, a 10% reduction in “bad LDL cholesterol and a 14% reduction in apoliprotein B, a blood protein used to estimate cholesterol levels, according to the analysis.
These results showed that plant-based diets can play an important role in reducing blocked arteries, thereby reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack, the researchers concluded in the review published May 24 in the European journal of the heart.
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“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,” said researcher Dr Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, chief medical officer at Rigshospitalet de Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Importantly, we found similar results across continents, ages, different body mass index ranges, and among people in different health states,” Frikke-Schmidt said in a release. press.
Vegetarian and vegan diets benefited people ranging from normal weight to obesity, the researchers found.
For the review, researchers analyzed data from 30 clinical trials, with nearly 2,400 participants, published between 1982 and 2022.
Participants in the 30 studies were randomly assigned to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or to pursue an omnivorous diet that included meat and dairy. Diet durations ranged from 10 days to five years, with an average of 29 weeks.
This is the first study of its kind comparing omnivorous and vegetarian diets published since 2017, and none before has taken into account apoliprotein B levels or the impact of continent, age, gender. mass index and health status, the researchers said.
More than 18 million people die each year from heart disease worldwide, making it the leading cause of death worldwide, the researchers noted.
They added that a switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet can also help stem climate change.
“Recent systematic reviews have shown that if people in high-income countries adopt plant-based diets, it can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 35-49%. Our study provides strong evidence that plant-based diets are good for our health for people of different sizes, ages and health conditions,” Frikke-Schmidt said.
“Additionally, the world’s populations are aging, and as a result, the cost of treating age-related diseases such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is increasing,” she continued. “Plant-based diets are key instruments for shifting food production to more environmentally friendly forms, while reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. We should have a varied diet, rich in plants, not too much, and quench our thirst with water.
Frikke-Schmidt noted that cholesterol-lowering statins are consistently superior to plant-based diets for lowering fat and cholesterol levels.
However, one diet does not exclude the other, and combining statins with plant-based diets is likely to have a synergistic effect, resulting in even greater benefits, Frikke-Schmidt said.
The meta-analysis also could not directly compare the fish-based “Mediterranean” diet to omnivorous diets, due to the lack of such studies in the scientific literature, the researchers noted.
“However, the Mediterranean diet is rich in plant-based foods and fish and is well established as beneficial in dietary guidelines,” Frikke-Schmidt said.
The researchers said more larger studies are needed. These studies should last longer and track additional factors like apoliprotein B and other biomarkers linked to conditions such as inflammation and insulin resistance.
Harvard Medical School has more on going vegetarian.
SOURCE: European journal of the heartpress release, May 25, 2023