A recent study indicates that plant-based diets have the potential to lower cholesterol and blood fat levels, leading to a decreased likelihood of heart and blood vessel diseases. Over five years, individuals who followed vegetarian or vegan diets experienced a 7% reduction in their risk of cardiovascular disease in comparison to those who consumed meat.
Statins and plant-based diet has cardiovascular benefits
Nonetheless, this effect was only one-third as impactful as using statins. The researchers suggest that combining a plant-based diet with statin medication could yield even greater advantages.
In a comprehensive analysis, researchers examined 30 randomized trials from 1982 to 2022 with over 2,300 participants. The trials aimed to assess the impact of vegan and vegetarian diets on cholesterol levels compared to omnivorous diets that included meat and dairy consumption.
The studies analyzed three forms of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and apolipoprotein B (apoB). LDL is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, while triglycerides are a type of fat present in the bloodstream. On the other hand, apoB is a protein that transports fat and cholesterol in the blood and is considered a reliable indicator of the overall levels of harmful fats and cholesterol in the body.
Vegan and vegetarian diets reduce artery-clogging lipoproteins by 14%
According to Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt from Rigshospitalet in Denmark, vegan and vegetarian diets are linked to a 14% decrease in artery-clogging lipoproteins, as measured by apolipoprotein B. This reduction is equivalent to about one-third of the impact of cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins. Maintaining a plant-based diet for five years could lead to a 7% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Professor Frikke-Schmidt added that while statin treatment is more effective than plant-based diets in reducing fats and cholesterol levels, combining both approaches could have a synergistic effect, resulting in even greater benefits.
According to Professor Frikke-Schmidt, plant-based diets have a strong potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to blocked arteries. This potential is particularly significant when adopted from a young age. Findings were consistent across continents, BMI ranges and among people with different health conditions.