Two new studies point to the benefits of a plant-based diet on heart health.

The first study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that regular consumption of nuts was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Study participants who consumed walnuts one or more times per week were 20 percent less likely to develop heart disease than the control group. For peanut lovers there was good news as well. Just two servings of peanuts per week led to a 14 percent risk decrease. And regular consumption of other nuts like almonds and cashews was associated with a decreased risk between 15 and 23 percent.

The study comes just a day after new research conducted by scientists from Icahn School of Medicine in New York, found a switch to a plant-based diet could also decrease the risk of heart disease by as much as 42 percent, even when controlling for age, sex, race, and other risk factors. The researchers looked at more than 15,000 people over the course of four years, studying five distinct diet types, according to the Independent:

  • Convenience – red meats, pastas, fried potatoes, fast foods
  • Plant-based – dark leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, fish
  • Sweets – desserts, breads, sweet breakfast foods, chocolate, candy
  • Southern – eggs, fried food, organ meats, processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Alcohol/salads – salad dressings, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, butter, wine.

 

“Eating a diet mostly of dark green leafy plants, fruits, beans, whole grains and fish, while limiting processed meats, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and foods high in added sugars is a heart-healthy lifestyle and may specifically help prevent heart failure if you don’t already have it,” said lead researcher Dr Kyla Lara of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. More than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year — about one in four deaths.

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