The health benefits of a plant-based diet are many and range from a longer life to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. But just like their carnivorous and omnivorous counterparts, vegans need to make sure that they mainly eat healthy foods and don't consume too much processed carbohydrates and sugary foods. According to a recent study, this could negate the positive aspects of a plant-based diet.
Researchers at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, reported that vegans who ate mostly unhealthy foods (juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes, and sweets) did not experience a significantly reduced risk for those who ate primarily animal products Had heart disease.
Only vegans who ate healthy foods (mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, oils, and tea or coffee) had better heart health than those who ate meat and dairy products.
"Based on these results, it does not appear to be sufficient to follow a plant or vegetarian diet to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Demosthenes Panagiotakos, PhD, professor of biostatistics, research methods, and epidemiology at Harokopio- University of Athens, Greece and the US lead author of the study said in a press release. "It is also important to focus on certain healthy plant food groups to see benefits in reducing cardiovascular disease."
For the study, the researchers tracked the eating habits of more than 2,000 Greek adults over a period of 10 years from 2002 and asked them to conduct a detailed survey of their diet and overall health at the beginning of the study after five years and afterwards 10.
In the end, the researchers analyzed the relationship between nutrition and the development of heart disease. Men who ate fewer animal products had 25 percent less heart disease than men who ate meat and cheese. That number was 11 percent for women.
That sounds good, but even these benefits were only seen if these people focused on healthy foods. In addition, plant-based women who ate unhealthy foods actually saw an increased risk of heart disease.
This study does not necessarily contain anything groundbreaking, since we have known for ages that healthy eating – on any diet – is the right way. Therefore donuts, juices and sweetened drinks should only be enjoyed on the rare day of fraud. Don't make them part of your daily meal preparation.