Here’s what the research found.
Reviewed by Dietitian Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., RD
As the new year approaches, searching for a diet or eating pattern that works for you may be top of mind. Whether you’re looking to follow a new way of eating or are looking to lower your cholesterol, there’s new research that highlights a specific diet that may help.
According to research published in October 2023 in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, there’s a direct link between a specific plant-based diet and lowering risk of heart disease.
Want to learn more? We break down what the studies showed and what you need to know about the diet in question. Read on to learn more.
What the Studies Found
Three studies that followed a combined total of 210,240 individuals were assessed. Each person’s eating habits were documented using food frequency questionnaires every four years, which gave each person a Portfolio Diet Score (PDS). Eating more plant protein and legumes, nuts and seeds, viscous fiber sources, phytosterols and plant monounsaturated fat sources was associated with a positive score; foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol were associated with a more negative score.
After a 30-year follow-up, there were 16,917 incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) cases, including 10,666 coronary heart disease (CHD) cases and 6,473 strokes. When comparing the PDS scores to CVD risk of all individuals, the researchers noted that those with a higher PDS score were less at risk of CVD, CHD and stroke. Overall, the research found that closely following the Portfolio Diet is associated with less risk of heart disease by up to 30%.
It’s not surprising that a plant-based diet can help lower cholesterol levels. A positive PDS reflects higher intake of cholesterol-lowering foods like high-fiber produce, nuts and beans. And on the flip side, including foods like red meat in your everyday diet can cause heart problems. It’s important to note that the Portfolio Diet isn’t the only heart-healthy eating pattern around, as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet have been noted to be two of the best diets for your heart.
The Bottom Line
Following a plant-based eating pattern can help lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease. While more research is needed, including more foods like legumes, nuts and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet is a heart-healthy strategy that may support healthy cholesterol numbers. Check out this 7-day no-sugar meal plan to help lower cholesterol.
Read the original article on Eating Well.