Can a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Lower Cholesterol?

The researchers found that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet at a young age may lower the risk of developing heart disease due to clogged arteries. Freepik

In recent years, the vegetarian and/or vegan diet has become increasingly popular.

Vegetarianism and veganism have many followers for a variety of reasons, many of which are health related.

A recent study shows that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can lead to lower blood fat and cholesterol levels.

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According to research, which reviewed data from studies published since 1982, plant-based diets may be an important factor in reducing the number of clogged arteries.

This would lower the risk of blood vessels and heart diseases such as stroke and heart attacks.

Also read: Happy Meal: How eating green veggies can beat out all the blues

What does the study say?

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, looked at how eating a vegetarian or vegan diet affected all types of cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB), a blood protein believed to be a reliable indicator of heart disease. unhealthy fat and cholesterol levels.

The researchers found that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet at a young age may lower the risk of developing heart disease due to clogged arteries.

The study found a 14 percent decrease in all artery-clogging lipoproteins, as evidenced by apoliprotein B (apoB) when following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This corresponds to one third of the effects of taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins, and five years of following a plant-based diet would reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by seven percent. In terms of lowering fat and cholesterol levels, statin therapy outperforms plant-based diets.

Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Rigshospitalet said: “If people start eating vegetarian or vegan diets from an early age, there is the potential to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease caused by clogged arteries.”

The researchers found that this was consistent with one-third of the results of taking statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The study was conducted by Dr. Emilie Westerlin Kjeldsen, another physician from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, Caroline Amalie Koch, a medical student, and Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, the hospital’s chief physician. A total of 2,372 participants from 30 trials published between 1982 and 2022 were studied by the researchers.

They compared the effects of omnivorous diets with vegetarian or vegan diets on blood levels of all forms of cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, and apoliprotein B, a protein that helps transport fat and cholesterol . . According to the researchers, no studies of this type have been published since 2017, and none have specifically examined the effects of diet on apoB levels or addressed the influence of continent, age, body mass index and health status.

The study participants either maintained an omnivorous diet (including meat and dairy products) or followed a vegetarian or vegan diet. Diets were followed for an average of 29 weeks, ranging from 10 days to 5 years.

“We should eat a varied, plant-rich diet, not too much, and quench our thirst with water,” says Professor Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Rigshospitalet, adding: “We saw significant effects from both vegetarian and vegan diets and people ranging from normal weight to obesity.”

Independent quoted Aston Medical School senior lecturer and registered dietician Dr Duane Mellor said: “If someone is considering making a dietary change it may be helpful to discuss this with a health professional and perhaps a dietician so that it is designed to be nutritionally adequate are , help address their health issues and ideally be enjoyable.

Some may find it easier to follow a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products, with only small amounts of meat, according to Tracy Parker, senior dietitian for the British Heart Foundation.

Read also: Explanation: How healthy is your keto diet?

What is bad cholesterol and how does it affect our body?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of the cholesterol in your body is low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol.

While HDL cholesterol, also known as “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol from the blood and transports it back to the liver. It is then removed from the body through the liver.

LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries if your body has too much of it. This buildup, known as “plaque,” has been linked to health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Your risk of heart disease and stroke can be reduced by having high HDL cholesterol levels.

With input from agencies

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Can a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Lower Cholesterol?

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