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Plant-Based Food Lowers Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases: Study

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Higher intake of plant-based food and lower consumption of animal-based food can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality rates, a new study says.

Eating more plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and fewer animal products like meat, seafood, dairy and eggs will contribute to a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

A group of six experts analyzed data of food intake information from more than 10,000 middle-aged people in 4 American states, who were monitored over a period of 30 years, from 1987 to 2016. None of them had any heart disease at the beginning of the epidemiological study.

People who followed a plant-based or pro-vegetarian diet had a 16 percent lower risk of having cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other conditions, the study found. That category's risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 32 percent lower when compared to people who consumed the least plant-based foods.

People who ate the most plant-based foods overall had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who ate the least amount of plant-based foods.

Casey M. Rebholz, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, is the lead author of the study. Hyunju Kim, Laura E. Caulfield, Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Lyn M. Steffen, and Josef Coresh were the fellow researchers.

The researchers do not recommend giving up foods derived from animals completely.

"Our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease," said lead researcher Casey Rebholz.

"Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet. There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods," she added.

The American Heart Association recommends eating a mostly plant-based diet, provided the foods are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, salt, cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated and trans fats.

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