The benefits of a plant-based diet for cardiovascular health



Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million lives each year, according to the World Heart Federation. Only in Brazil, the Sociedade Brasileira de Cardiologia estimates that one person dies of cardiovascular disease each 90 seconds. These figures have been increasing in the last decades due to many factors: genetics play a part, but so does one’s lifestyle – mostly, how often people exercise, if they smoke and what they eat.


“The rise in cardiovascular disease is concerning and it calls for us to revisit our food choices. When it comes to eating habits, scientists have found that a plant-based diet is associated with lower levels of heart problems and mortality,” says Fernanda Vieira, Sinergia Animal’s Food Policy Director. In Indonesia, a high cardiovascular risk is common among Indonesian adults aged ≥40 years, and rates of preventive treatment are low.


According to a study carried out by scientists from the public health department of the Johns Hopkins University, one of the most reputable in the world, people who had a plant-based diet—with no consumption of animal products such as red meat, chicken, fish, eggs nor dairy—were associated with a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 32% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality. The research analysed more than 12 thousand adults from 1987 through 2016.


Among the ones adopting a plant-based diet there were also differences. Those who had higher intakes of whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, were consistently associated with an even lower risk for these same issues. On the other hand, the participants who consumed animal products the most had a higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.


Another study from the University of Oxford pointed in the same direction: consuming a vegetarian diet was associated with lower incident heart disease risk, as well as healthier cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. This research assessed data from more than 44 thousand people.