MAY 22, 2024 9:00 AM PDT

Plant-based Diets Benefit the Heart and Decrease Cancer Risk

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new umbrella review published in PLOS ONE that analyzed 48 previously published papers suggests that vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death.

The review included papers published between 2000 and 2023 that examined the effects of plant-based diets (vegan and vegetarian diets) on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases, cancer, and related deaths. In total, 48 papers were included in the analysis. Risk factors that were analyzed included cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, lipids, blood pressure, body weight, glucose metabolism (HbA1c), cardiovascular events, and cancer. Additionally, papers that examined how plant-based diets relate to deaths from heart disease and cancer were included.

The results showed that vegetarian and vegan diets were significantly associated with reductions in many of the risk factors for heart disease and cancer, including lipid profiles, glucose metabolism, and body weight. These diets were also associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease or cancer as well as a lower risk of dying from either condition.

Altogether, the results of this umbrella review suggest that plant-based diets have significant advantages over other diets in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. However, the authors noted that there are still limitations to their study, such as the geographical origins of the included studies, differing specific dietary patterns that were analyzed, and confounding lifestyle factors. Nonetheless, a vegetarian diet appears promising in benefitting overall health. Previous research has shown that diets that include high quantities of meat, refined grains, sugar, and salt tend to be associated with a higher risk of death, certain cancers, and heart disease. Emphasizing plants and whole grains in one’s diet is likely to benefit overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Sources: PLOS ONE, Science Daily


About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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