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Health benefits of plant-based diet
June 24, 2018, 2:35 pm

New data supporting the health benefits of a plant-based diet were revealed at Nutrition 2018, the flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition. Researchers from the Netherlands, Brazil and the United States presented studies on the benefits of a vegetarian-type diet and the health importance of the quality of food.

Some of the highlights from these findings are presented below. However, these are ‘preliminary results’ and will need to undergo the rigorous peer review before they can be accepted in full.

Heart-related illness: The study from the Netherlands, which looked at almost 6,000 people, found that those who ate a high ratio of plant-derived protein compared to animal-derived protein were at lower risk of developing coronary heart disease later in life.

Similarly, the Brazilian study looked at around 4,500 people and concluded that people who had a diet rich in plant-based protein were 60 percent less likely than people who had a diet rich in animal-based protein to develop a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

And, a study looking at South Asian people living in the US found that vegetarianism was associated with fewer risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Compared with their nonvegetarian peers, South Asian vegetarians exhibited among others, smaller waist circumference, lower amounts of abdominal fat, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lower body mass index (BMI). In addition, they were also less likely to gain weight and had a lower mortality rate.

Importance of the quality of food: In another study in the US that examined over 125,000 adults over a period of four years to find any association between eating healthful plant-based foods and reduced weight gain, it was found that people ate a lot of high-quality plant-based foods, such as whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, were less likely to gain weight than people who ate a lot of less healthful plant-based foods, such as fries, refined grains, and candy.

Previous studies had already shown that the quality of quality of plant-based foods is "more important than the quality" of animal-derived foods when it comes to dietary health. This data mapped the link between making strong dietary choices for healthful, high-quality plant-based foods and a 30 percent lower mortality rate. Consuming high-quality animal-based foods, however, was not associated with any significant benefits for mortality.

Chronic conditions: A further benefit to a plant-based diet was that people with chronic health conditions who consumed a diet rich in high-quality plant-based foods were found to benefit even more than those in the general population.



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