Study Plant-Based Vegetarian Diet Associated With Lower Cholesterol

Monday, November 6th, 2017 | 1379 Views

Study: Plant-Based Vegetarian Diet Associated With Lower Cholesterol, especially vegan diets, are associated with lower levels of total cholesterol as compared to omnivorous diets, according to a meta-analysis study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

The study’s authors—Dr Yoko Yokoyama, Dr Susan Levin, and Dr Neal Barnard—reviewed 30 observational studies and 19 clinical trials, and found that a plant-based vegetarian diet is associated with total cholesterol that’s 29.2 mg/dL lower in observational studies. In clinical trials, a plant-based diet lowers total cholesterol by 12.5 mg/dL

The researchers gathered that the strong correlation between vegetarian diets and lower cholesterol levels may be due to the association a plant-based diet has with a lower body weight, a reduced intake of saturated fat, and an increased intake of plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, which are naturally rich in components such as soluble fibre, soy protein, and plant sterols.

The researchers hypothesised that the greater risk reduction for total high density lipoprotein (HD) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels observed in the longitudinal studies is likely due to long-term adherence to plant-based eating patterns and changes in body composition.

LDL cholesterol is often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ as consuming too much of it contributes to fatty build-up in arteries. HDL is often referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ as it protects against heart attack and stroke.

“The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet, like weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol, are well documented in controlled studies,” said Dr Levin.

The researchers also highlighted that hyperlipidemia, or elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Taking small steps which include assessing heart disease risk, making lifestyle and dietary recommendations, and assessing the need for future follow-up appointments and pharmaceutical interventions, could prevent heart attacks and coronary heart disease.


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