Monday, May 29, 2023
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Plant-based diet help decrease cholesterol, study finds

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Fruits and vegetables can be seen in this picture. — Unsplash/File
Fruits and vegetables can be seen in this picture. — Unsplash/File

Eating Fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining good health which only 1 in 10 Americans use in their daily diet. A new study suggested that if you have a problem with cholesterol these types of diets will ensure your healthy life.

In the study, experts looked into low-density lipoproteins (LDL) — called bad cholesterol as their build-up causes the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

Participants following a plant-based diet saw their LDL level dropping by 10% with total cholesterol going down to 7% compared to those who eat both meat and plants.

Lead author Dr Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, professor of clinical biochemistry and chief physician at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark said: "This corresponds to a third of the effect of taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins, and would result in a 7% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease in someone who maintained a plant-based diet for five years."

"Importantly, we found similar results across continents, ages, different ranges of body mass index, and among people in different states of health," said Frikke-Schmidt.

"If people start eating vegetarian or vegan diets from an early age, the potential for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease caused by blocked arteries is substantial."

"This large analysis supports what we already know: that including more plant-based foods in your diet is good for your heart," Tracy Parker, a senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation in Birmingham, said, who was not involved with the study.

However, the study also highlighted that the impact of diet on cholesterol may be limited for people who "inherit the tendency for their livers to produce too much cholesterol, meaning that high cholesterol is more strongly influenced by our DNA than by our diet," said Robert Storey, professor of cardiology at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

Statin treatment is superior to plant-based diets in reducing fats and cholesterol levels, Frikke-Schmidt said.

"However, one regimen does not exclude the other, and combining statins with plant-based diets is likely to have a synergistic effect, resulting in an even larger beneficial effect," she noted.

A senior teaching fellow at Aston University’s Medical School in Birmingham UK, Duane Mellor said: "Anyone considering becoming a vegetarian or vegan should be sure it is well planned to include enough iron, iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D."

In addition, people who transition to a plant-based diet should still be mindful of the kinds of foods they’re consuming.

Aedin Cassidy, professor and director for interdisciplinary research at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast underlined that only "healthy plant-based diets, characterised by fruits, vegetables and whole grains, improve health, while other plant diets that include refined carbohydrates and processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt do not".

"If people have trouble adjusting to a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle consider trying the Mediterranean diet, which focuses mostly on fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish, with few eggs and minimal low-fat dairy, and very little meat," stated Parker.