- A predominantly plant-based diet can potentially reduce the risk of heart failure by 42% over a period of four years, compared to diets with less plant-based foods, according to a preliminary study.
- Eating primarily dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and fish, while limiting processed and high-fat foods, refined carbs, and foods high in added sugars can promote heart health. These foods can specifically help prevent heart failure in those not already afflicted.
- The study, involving over 15,500 American adults aged 45 or older with no known history of heart disease or heart failure, compared four other diet patterns against the plant-based diet, finding no other dietary patterns associated with a decreased risk of heart failure.
- The study’s findings point to an observational nature, indicating an association but not proving cause-and-effect relationships. The results should currently be considered preliminary until peer-reviewed for publication.
New preliminary research has found that a predominantly plant-based diet can potentially lead to significantly reduced risk of heart failure. The study, which focused on five different diet patterns, discovered that individuals who consumed mostly plant-based foods had a 42% lower risk of developing heart failure over a period of four years, compared to those who consumed fewer plant-based foods.
Understanding the Research
The lead author of the study, Dr. Kyla Lara, who serves as an internal medicine resident at the renowned Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explained that “eating a diet mainly consisting of dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and fish, while limiting the consumption of processed meats, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and foods high in added sugars is beneficial for heart health.”
She further added that this eating pattern could specifically help in preventing heart failure in those who are not already afflicted by it. Heart failure, characterized by the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to support its workload, affects an estimated 6.5 million adults over the age of 20 in the United States.
The groundbreaking study involved the participation of over 15,500 American adults, all aged 45 or older, and with no known history of heart disease or heart failure. Four other diet patterns, including diets predominantly based on convenience foods (like red meats, pastas, fried potatoes, fast foods), diets laden with sweets (such as desserts, bread, sweet breakfast foods, chocolate, candy), traditional southern diets (including eggs, fried foods, organ meats, processed meats, sugary drinks) and alcohol-and-salads-based diets were assessed against the plant-based diet.
The research shows that none of these other four dietary patterns were found to be associated with a decreased risk of heart failure.
Existing Literature on Diet and Heart Health
Prior studies have already pointed out that one’s diet can significantly influence their risk of developing heart-related diseases, including heart attacks, stroke and heart failure. This most recent study is primarily observational in nature, indicating it can identify an association, but cannot definitively prove cause-and-effect relationships.
The discovery was presented recently at a relevant annual meeting. Until the study is peer-reviewed for publication in a medical journal, the findings should be considered preliminary.
You can find more information on preventative measures for heart failure on the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.