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Want To Improve Your Heart Health? It’s Time To Go Plant-Based

7th September 2021

7th September 2021

By Beth Shelper

Here at Innermost, we’re always on the look out for nutritional breakthroughs, advice and the latest trends and findings. Recently, we came across a pretty exciting study, published by the American Heart Association around the benefits of a plant-based diet. If you didn’t already know, we’re big believers in the benefits of a vegan diet, and that’s why we created The Health Protein. But this study is really just the cherry on top.

Whilst plant-based diets are backed by a huge body of evidence and come with a range of benefits for your health and wellness, both body and mind, this study is particularly significant, as it brings us one step closer to discovering an answer to the all-important question: is a vegan diet good for your heart? Well, that depends on which foods increase heart disease, doesn’t it?

What foods increase heart disease?

Veganism and heart health have long been linked, due to the long-standing correlation between red meat consumption and heart disease. With that in mind, a plant-based diet is an absolute must if you are someone that wants to reduce your risk of heart disease.  

Some of the most common foods and drinks to increase your risk of heart disease include:

  • Foods high in salt
  • Foods high in sugar
  • White rice
  • Red meat
  • Bacon
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Pizza
  • Processed meats
  • Soft drinks

With these foods and drinks being so prevalent in everyday diets, it’s important to take note of studies such as the American Heart Association study, so that we can make better choices everyday to improve our health and wellbeing. Plant-based diets have grown in popularity in recent years for benefits such as increased weight loss and reducing hypertension, but the American Heart Association study provides even wider scope in the advocation of the plant-based diet lifestyle.

But, what is the American Heart Association study, and is a plant-based diet good for your heart? Let’s take a closer look.

What was the American Heart Association study?

The study monitored nearly 5,000 young adults aged 18-30 (4,946 young adults, to be exact), and their diet. The study was purely observational, so did not dictate how much of certain food types of groups the participants should consume, but instructed the participants to eat a plant-based diet that consisted of the four following food groups:

  • Beneficial

Foods included in the Beneficial food group included fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and wholegrains.

  • Adverse

Foods included in the Adverse food group included fried foods, high-fat red meat and salty foods.

  • Snacks

Foods included in the Snacks food group included pastries and soft drinks.

  • Neutral

Foods included in the Neutral food groups include potatoes, refined grains and lean meats.

What were the findings of the American Heart Association study?

During the follow up sessions, it was found that only 239 of the nearly 5,000 participants developed heart disease (namely experiencing heart attacks, strokes, clogged arteries or chest pain). These 239 participants were found to have consumed higher levels of the adverse food group items, compared to the participants that hadn’t experienced symptoms of heart disease.

Summary

All in all, it’s fair to say that eating a plant-based diet in your early adulthood is greatly associated with a lower risk of heart disease. So, if you’re lucky enough to be in the 18-30 age category, we definitely recommend that you consider implementing this into your lifestyle.

Even if you are plant-based just a couple of days a week, we’ve all got to start somewhere!

At the risk of sounding like a nag, it’s not just a matter of being a trendy vegan, you know. Whilst we all know the vegan stereotype, the results of the American Heart Association study show that your risk of heart disease and risk to your heart health is drastically increased following poor dietary choices.

Plant based diets don’t have to be bland and boring. Trust us.

 If you’re struggling for inspiration when it comes to a plant-based, vegan diet, don’t stress. Check out Insight, as we’ve collated some of our favourite vegan recipes there. Our absolute favourite is our delicious Vegan Mushroom and Lentil Bolognese, but there are some pretty great dairy alternatives and advice on vegan protein sources available on our website, too.  You know what to do.

References

  • Wolk, A. (2017). Potential health hazards of eating red meat. Journal of internal medicine, 281(2), 106-122. Click here.

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