Can You Reverse Heart Disease with A Vegan Diet – What Science Has To Say
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet involves eating only foods comprising plants reverse heart disease. Those who follow this diet avoid all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. For some, being vegan is a dietary choice, while for others, it is a lifestyle choice.
Vegan diets tend to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Eating a variety of these foods will provide a wide range of important vitamins, minerals, healthful fats, and protein.
People following this diet should make sure to get key nutrients that people usually consume in animal products. These nutrients include iron, protein, calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D.
Vegan vs. vegetarian
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The main difference between vegetarians and vegans is that although vegetarians do not eat meat (including cows, pigs, chicken, and fish), they consume dairy products, eggs, or both. The vegan diet excludes all products with animal-based ingredients.
The vegan diet is more restrictive, so you will need to think more about where your nutrients are coming from to ensure that they meet their daily dietary requirements.
Can it Reverse Heart Disease?
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Studies have reported that Vegan diets can boost heart health in several ways.
Meat typically contains high amounts of saturated and trans fats, which can increase blood cholesterol. Cholesterol can cause fatty deposits in the blood vessels which increases the risk of stroke, peripheral artery disease, and reverse heart disease. Plant-based foods, by nature, contain no dietary cholesterol. A diet high in fat and cholesterol can raise blood pressure, too, which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
A 2018 study by the Cleveland Clinic found that eating red meat could increase the risk of heart disease 1,000 percent more than a plant-based diet.
A large scale 2019 study has linked a higher intake of plant-based foods and lower intake of animal foods with a reduced risk of reverse heart disease and death in adults.
Animal products including meat, cheese, and butter are the main dietary sources of saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating foods that contain these fats raises cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol increase the risk of reverse heart disease and stroke.
Plant foods are also high in fibre, which the AHA link with better heart health. Animal products contain very little or no fibre, while plant-based vegetables and grains are the best sources.
In addition, people on a vegan diet often take in fewer calories than other diets. A moderate calorie intake can lead to a lower body mass index (BMI) and a reduced risk of obesity, a major risk factor for reverse heart disease. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and fibre is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
All of these are generally eaten in large amounts in well-planned vegan diets.
Observational studies comparing vegans to vegetarians and the general population report that vegans may benefit from up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
Vegans may also have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
What’s more, several randomized controlled studies report that vegan diets are much more effective at reducing blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels than the diets they are compared to.
This may be particularly beneficial to heart health since reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels may reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 46%.
Compared to the general population, vegans also tend to consume more whole grains and nuts, both of which are good for your heart.Vegan diets may benefit heart health by significantly reducing the risk factors that contribute to heart disease.
Benefits of Vegan Diet
Vegan diets can provide all of the nutrients that a person needs, and they can eliminate some of the possible risks that research has associated with harmful animal fats. Research has linked the vegan diet with a range of health benefits, including those below.
Lowers the Risk of Cancer
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According to a 2017 review, eating a vegan diet may reduce a person’s risk of cancer by 15%. This health benefit may be due to the fact that plant foods are high in fibre, vitamins, and phytochemicals — biologically active compounds in plants that protect against cancers.
Research into the effects of diet on the risk of specific cancers has produced mixed results.
It is reported that processed meat is carcinogenic and may cause colorectal cancer.Eliminating red and processed meats from the diet removes these possible risks.
Promotes Weight loss
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People on a vegan diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those following other diets.
The researchers behind a 2015 study reported that vegan diets were more effective for weight loss than omnivorous, semi-vegetarian, and vegetarian diets, as well as being better for providing macronutrients.
Many animal foods are high in fat and calories, so replacing these with low calorie plant-based foods can help people manage their weight.
It is important to note, though, that eating lots of processed or high fat plant-based foods — which some people refer to as a junk food vegan diet — can lead to unhealthful weight gain.
Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
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According to a large 2019 review, following a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The research linked this effect with eating healthful plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
Take Home Message
Vegan diets are growing in popularity. A vegan diet can offer many health benefits, including better heart health, weight loss, and a reduced risk of chronic reverse diseases.
Research also suggests that vegan diets are better for the environment.
People who wish to adopt a vegan diet will need to plan their meals carefully to ensure that they are getting enough key nutrients to avoid deficiencies.