Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, with almost 25 percent of deaths in the United States attributed to the disease. The term heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the blood vessels of the heart, rhythm problems, and heart defects among others.
For the most part, living a healthy lifestyle is the most important protective factor against developing heart disease. This was recently emphasized in a study that found that eating a mostly plant-based diet was associated with less risk of developing heart failure.
Plant-based diets may help you live longer
Various diets were looked at in the study and those who ate mostly plant-based foods (dark, leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, fish) had a 42 percent decreased risk for developing heart failure compared to those who ate fewer plant-based foods.
Other diets included in the study were:
- Convenience (red meats, pasta, fried potatoes, fast foods)
- Sweets (desserts, bread, sweet breakfast foods, chocolate, candy)
- Southern (eggs, fried food, organ meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages)
- Alcohol/Salads (salad dressings, green, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, wine, butter, liquor)
“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 Kyla Lara, M.D., first author of the study and an internal medicine resident at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, New York.
Data collected over years
The data used in this study was collected from a nationwide observational study of risk factors for stroke in adults 45 years or older, called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). Over 15,000 participants without coronary artery disease or heart failure were included, having been recruited from 2003 to 2007 and followed until 2013.
Subjects reported their diets using questionnaires. Over a period of 3,000 days, there were 300 heart failure incident hospitalizations reported.
Of all the dietary plans identified, those who had the ate mostly plant-based diets had the greatest decrease in risk of heart failure events after adjusting for age, sex, and race.
While eating a mostly vegetarian or vegan diet has always been associated with being healthy, this study provides evidence supporting the fact that it could help you live longer.