A recent study has discovered that diets rich in plant foods are better than low-fat diets when it comes to decreasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. The study monitored more than 5,000 Americans, with the scientists finding that individuals who ate diets low in saturated fat had lower LDL levels.
Saturated fat is known to increase LDL cholesterol levels and is mostly found in animal products. LDL cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, is considered a bad cholesterol as it contributes to fatty buildup in the arteries. However, the researchers note that lower LDL levels didn’t translate to a lower risk of stroke or heart disease. Contrastingly, individuals who consumed a lot of plant foods, including nuts, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, did have lower risks of cardiovascular issues.
The scientists note that their discovery does not mean that either saturated fat or LDL cholesterol are insignificant, just that individuals who consume more plant foods tend to have low levels of LDL, as their diets contain little saturated fat on account of limiting their dairy and meat consumption. A University of Minnesota postdoctoral fellow Yuni Choi, who was also the study’s author, stated that adopting a more holistic approach to eating would be better for an individual’s heart health.
The study’s findings were presented at the annual American Society for Nutrition meeting, which was held in June.
For their study, the researchers evaluated the diet histories of all the study participants and assigned each one a score that was based off of how much saturated fat and how many plant foods they usually ate. The researchers found that individuals who didn’t consume saturated fat and those who ate plenty of vegetables had lower LDL cholesterol. However, only diets rich in plant foods were associated with lower risks of stroke and heart disease.
Additionally, for every gradual increase in the scores, the risk of stroke and heart disease decreased by 29% and 19% on average, respectively. This was determined after taking into account factors such as education levels, income, body weight and smoking.
The researchers assert that a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that individuals have to become vegan or vegetarian. Instead, David Jacobs, senior researcher on the study, explains that this means that at least 70% of a dinner plate should be filled with whole grains, beans and vegetables and other plant foods. He adds that fresh foods are better than heavily processed versions.
It is important to note that until these findings are published in a peer reviewed journal, they are to be considered preliminary.
The growing body of research showing that various food nutrients are crucial to different aspects of human health has prompted a number of companies such as Healthy Extracts Inc. (OTCQB: HYEX) to bring to market nutrient-dense supplements aimed at improving and preserving heart health as well as those intended to boost other aspects of health.
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