Around Half a million Britons It’s now a vegan, according to the Vegetarian Society. In the United States, there was a file 300% increase In the number of American vegetarians in the past fifteen years.
There are many reasons why people adopt a plant-based diet, such as animal welfare, sustainability or weight loss. Another reason that’s often promoted is that vegetarian diets are as well Good for your heartAnd not only can heart disease be prevented, it even can Returns.
But we have The most recent review was foundThis is not necessarily true. In fact, we found that there is currently very little evidence to suggest that a plant-based diet protects the heart, or can reverse heart disease.
The good and the bad
This does not mean that vegetarian diets have no benefits. Large amounts of whole grains, along with fruits and vegetables, means vegetarians Consume more fiber Of carnivores (people who eat meat products, along with fruits and vegetables). Research shows that people who eat a A high-fiber diet They are less likely to develop heart disease.
Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables also means consuming a lot of phytonutrients, which are natural chemicals found in plants. Some research indicates this is her Inflammations and antioxidants Properties that may help Prevent damage Of the body’s cells. Since vegetarians eat more fruits and vegetables on average, they should benefit more.
A vegan diet is linked to a host of other health benefits that should benefit heart health, including A. Reducing weight, reducing blood pressure and lowering harmful cholesterol levels.
But unless built with care, a vegan diet can easily be Lacking vital nutrients. For example, vegan diets may contain Lower amounts of some omega-3 fatty acids, Which can be found easily in seafood. This could mean vegans aren’t getting the heart benefits from omega-3 fatty acids, such as Reduction of Blood pressure And cut down Risk of heart attack.
It’s also difficult to get some minerals and vitamins for vegetarians without supplementation. Levels of selenium, iodine and vitamin B12 are Less in vegetarians compared For non-vegetarians, that can be Harmful for them Heart health. Low levels of these minerals and vitamins can also lead to infection Thyroid problemsAnd the Muscle disorders And the Anemia.
Our team wanted to know if vegetarian diets actually reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes. To do this, we needed to look through All evidence is current That investigated this. This will allow us to draw a conclusion based on all the current data that is out there.
But despite the growing popularity of vegetarians, vegans are still a small part of any population. As such, there are few studies that have investigated the effects of a vegetarian diet of any length on heart health. We can Just You find three Although in total they were large studies, with data on more than 73,000 people combined, and over 7,000 vegetarians.
None of the studies found that vegetarians were protected from heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes compared to carnivores. Unfortunately, there has been a suggestion that vegetarians may be more likely to suck brain attackWhich is caused by a blood clot in the brain. But it is uncertain whether the plant-based diet itself actually increased the risk of this type of stroke, or if this was just a coincidence.
Our study also looked at whether a plant-based diet could benefit people who already have heart disease. One study showed that a vegetarian diet can be beneficial and may stop or reverse heart disease. Researchers found that people who started a vegan diet and stuck to it for more than three years were Six times less likely He suffers from another serious heart problem or stroke more than those who started a vegan diet but did not continue with it. That’s just one of 177 vegetarians, compared to 13 of the 21 non-vegetarians, who have fallen ill again. But since this was a relatively small sample, we ideally want a much larger study to verify this.
The other two studies did not show anything Benefit or reverse From Heart disease In people who start a plant-based diet. However, participants in these studies only followed a vegan diet for two or six months – making it really hard to see a long-term effect. But one of the benefits of following a vegan diet for six months is that the participants ended up taking it Lower cholesterol and lose more weight Of those who follow a carnivorous diet.
Overall, our review found that there is no evidence to support claims that vegan is good for your heart. But that’s partly due to a paucity of studies – and only 361 people in the studies we looked at became vegetarians after developing heart disease. Participants in the two studies were vegetarian-only for less than six months, which may not be long enough to see a significant effect on heart disease.
But vegetarians may have other health benefits. Vegetarians are found to have them A healthy weight and lower blood sugar levels Of those who consume meat and dairy. They are also less likely to develop cancerAnd the high blood pressure And the diabetic. But its effect on heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide, really needs to be better understood.
Top image: Some people turn to a vegan diet in the hopes that it will benefit their heart health. lassedesignen / Shutterstock