HealthPlant-based diets linked to lower cholesterol, but weight loss not guaranteed, says study

Plant-based diets linked to lower cholesterol, but weight loss not guaranteed, says study

A plant-based diet has a positive effect on the body.
A plant-based diet has a positive effect on the body.
Images source: © Licensor | Rafael Ben-Ari

9:44 PM EST, January 15, 2024

However, such diets may not necessarily result in weight loss.

Blood Cholesterol Levels in Detail

Researchers examined 30 studies involving a total of 2,372 participants.

The impact of vegetarian or vegan diets as compared to omnivorous diets on all types of cholesterol (overall cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol - LDL, often labeled "bad" cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoprotein B, or apoB - a protein that helps transport fat and cholesterol in the blood and indicates total poor fats and cholesterol) was assessed.

This is the largest systematic review of this topic to date and the first to consider apoB.

Specific vegetables may have detrimental effects on joint health.

Effects Across All Groups

In the 30 studies, participants were randomly assigned to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet or to continue their usual omnivorous diet (which includes meat and dairy). The diet duration varied from ten days to five years, with an average of 29 weeks.

Compared to those on an omnivorous diet, participants on a plant-based diet experienced an average reduction of 7% in total cholesterol levels, 10% in LDL cholesterol levels, and 14% in apoB levels, all measured from the beginning of the study.

A plant-based diet can help prevent atherosclerosis while lowering blood pressure and sugar levels.

"We noted significant positive effects of both vegetarian and vegan diets in individuals of normal weight and those overweight. This applies to people of all ages and from different continents," said Prof. Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Chief Physician and author of the meta-analysis from Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen, Denmark).

The Preventive Impact of a Plant-based Diet

Cardiovascular diseases claim more than 18 million lives worldwide each year. The United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda anticipates that by 2030, premature deaths from non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, will decrease by one-third.

"Plant-based diets can be instrumental in transitioning to more environmentally sustainable food production methods while also reducing cardiovascular diseases. We should adopt a diverse, plant-rich diet and hydrate mainly with water," encourages Prof. Ruth Frikke-Schmidt.

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