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Eating more plant foods may lower heart disease risk in young adults and older women

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Eating more plant foods may lower heart disease risk in young adults and older women

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Eating a plant-centred diet during adulthood is associated with a lower risk of heart disease in middle age, according to a long-term study with about 30 years of follow-up. 

Published: August 4, 2021

Source: American Heart Association


In two separate studies analyzing different measures of healthy plant food consumption, researchers found that both young adults and postmenopausal women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease when they ate more healthy plant foods.

They evaluated whether long-term consumption of a plant-centred diet and a shift toward a plant-centred diet starting in young adulthood are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in midlife.

Researchers found:

  • During 32 years of follow-up, 289 of the participants developed cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart-related chest pain or clogged arteries anywhere in the body).
  • People who scored in the top 20% on the long-term diet quality score (meaning they ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods and fewer adversely rated animal products) were 52% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, after considering several factors (including age, sex, race, average caloric consumption, education, parental history of heart disease, smoking and average physical activity).
  • In addition, between year 7 and 20 of the study when participants ages ranged from 25 to 50, those who improved their diet quality the most (eating more beneficial plant foods and fewer adversely rated animal products) were 61% less likely to develop subsequent cardiovascular disease, in comparison to the participants whose diet quality declined the most during that time.

These results present an important opportunity, as there is still room for people to incorporate more cholesterol-lowering plant foods into their diets. 


Story Source and Journal References:


Materials provided by American Heart Association. Content may be edited for style and length.

  1. Yuni Choi, Nicole Larson, Lyn M. Steffen, Pamela J. Schreiner, Daniel D. Gallaher, Daniel A. Duprez, James M. Shikany, Jamal S. Rana, David R. Jacobs. Plant‐Centred Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2021; DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.120.020718


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