Eating a Plant-Based Diet Reduces Your Risk of Heart Failure by 42%, Research Shows

Plant-Based Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

A new study shows that consuming a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of deadly heart failure. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York found that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are 42 percent less likely to develop heart failure than those who consume other types of diets.

The researchers examined the eating habits of 15,569 participants in Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), a nationwide observational study. The participants were classified as consuming one of five different types of diet: convenience (including red meats, pastas, fried and fast foods), plant-based (including vegetables, fruits, beans, fish), sweets (including desserts, breads, candy), Southern (including eggs, fried foods, organ meats, processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks), and alcohol/salads (including salad dressings, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, butter, wine).

While the researchers found that participants who fell into the plant-based diet category had a demonstrably lower risk of heart failure, there were no associations found for the other four dietary patterns.

“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 study first author Dr. Kyla Lara, from Mount Sinai Hospital.

It is worth noting that the plant-based diet, as defined by this study, does include fish, and, as Forbes reports, “sounds a lot like the Mediterranean diet.”

The findings of this study were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in California last week.

Additional research presented at the meeting showed that coffee reduces the risk of heart failure; the research indicated that risk continues to lower the more coffee people drink. This study examined data from the Framingham Heart Study, a decades-long project that has been tracking lifestyle habits and health outcomes from three generations of participants in Framingham, Massachusetts since 1948.

Neither of these studies have yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a journal.

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart is not able to pump enough blood through the body. It affects around 6.5 million American adults. The risk of death in the year of diagnosis is approximately 35 percent, according to UK clinical guidelines published in 2010.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.