Eating a Healthy Plant-Based Diet Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology normally has articles primarily about cardiovascular surgical interventions or debating different types of drug therapy. In the July 25th 2017 publication one study stands out. This original investigation is the largest exploration to date on the effects of plant-based diets on cardiovascular disease risk. It may sound self-evident as it is commonly accepted that plants are good for you, right? It’s true, they are, and what’s compelling about this study is that it differentiates among 3 different versions of a plant-based diet which more carefully reflects what typical diets actually look like.
3 Different Versions of a Plant-Based Diet
They define the 3 as follows: an overall plant-based diet that emphasizes consumption of all plant-based foods and reduces animal foods, a healthful plant-based diets which emphasizes intake of healthy plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and unhealthful plant based diets, and an unhealthful plant-based diet which emphasizes consumption of refined plant-based foods like refined grains, juices, and sweetened foods.
This Diet Has the Least Associated Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
As you might expect, a diet that puts the greatest emphasis on healthy plant based foods such as minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, is the diet that has the least associated risk of cardiovascular disease. This is what most naturopathic physicians commonly advise their patients to eat and is considered “standard of care” in naturopathic medicine.
A Study of this Scope is Exciting for 2 Reasons
First, it serves as clear, unequivocal guidance on what constitutes a healthy plant-based diet. Fruit juice, processed breakfast cereals and French fries are all plant derived, but none are healthy and this study takes that into account. Secondly, this is a major conventional journal of cardiology that is featuring the impact of diet on cardiovascular health and directly encouraging it’s readers to educate themselves better on diet so they may discuss it with their patients.
The sooner physicians across all fields emphasize the important of a healthy plant-based diet the greater the impact on the health of patients everywhere.
References: Satija A, Hu FB. Et al. Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults Journal of the American College of Cardiology p. 411-422 Vol 7, No 4
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Dr. Alethea Fleming, ND is a passionate advocate for naturopathic geriatric medicine. A 2007 Bastyr University graduate, she also earned a certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington. Dr. Fleming is the owner and lead physician of the Vital Aging Clinic in Anacortes, Washington where she provides primary care to all adults as well as adjunctive geriatric care. Dr. Fleming is active in multiple community organizations as well as a member of WANP, AANP and OncANP. In her off hours, Dr. Fleming can be found hiking the beautiful trails of Fidalgo Island, spending time with her wonderful husband and son, or with her nose firmly in a good book.