Vegan diet lowers risk of heart disease and stroke

Vegan diet lowers risk of heart disease and stroke

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Plant-based foods can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke

More and more people are eating vegan. Those who rely on plant-based food not only do something good for the environment and animal welfare, but also for their own health. This is also shown by scientific studies. According to a new study, a vegan diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Just a few months ago, a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), which showed that a vegan diet protects against fatal heart attacks and strokes. Now, new research results also show that a purely plant-based diet lowers risk factors for heart disease and cerebral infarction.

Cause of death number one

As the American Heart Association (AHA) wrote in a statement, the current study included 50 African Americans who were asked to eat only prepared dishes that were delivered to their homes. The scientists used a cardiovascular risk calculator to determine the risk of a heart attack or stroke over the next ten years.

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans and African Americans have the highest risk of cardiovascular disease," said study leader Dr. Kim Allan Williams Sr., chief of the cardiology department at Rush Medical College in Chicago. "We conducted this study to see what we can do about it."

The preliminary research results were recently presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions conference and published in the journal Circulation.

Almost no cholesterol

A vegan diet only includes plant foods. The meals the participants received for five weeks contained no meat, seafood, or dairy products. This means that they consumed almost no cholesterol from eating. Meals were also low in sodium and calories.

Marcia Otto, a lecturer in epidemiology, human genetics and environmental science at the School of Public Health at the Health Science Center at the University of Texas at Houston, said the results suggest benefits of a low-salt, low-meat diet for LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, important risk factors for Cardiovascular diseases.

According to AHA statistics, about 60 percent of African American men and 57 percent of African American women aged 20 years and over suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases.

Significantly higher death rates

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that heart disease alone caused death rates among African Americans in 2015 to be 21 percent higher than among whites.

Since the current study showed that the five-week diet reduced cardiovascular risk by 19.4 percent, Williams said, "With this diet, the excessive risk has almost disappeared." But he and Otto agreed that more research was needed.

The results "need to be corroborated by additional research, including a larger, more representative sample of African Americans, to provide more evidence of long-term health inequalities," said Otto, who was not involved in the research.

Cholesterol levels and blood pressure were lowered

Cardiovascular diseases include many types of cardiovascular diseases caused by arteriosclerosis. This disease occurs when a substance called plaque accumulates on the walls of the arteries. This build-up complicates blood flow through the arteries and increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The study found that diet lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 14 percent. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol because it contributes to atherosclerosis. The diet also lowered systolic blood pressure by ten points. High cholesterol and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The communication noted that participants in the study were vegan for only five weeks, but the 10-year risk reduction assumes that they will continue to eat vegan in those ten years.

"It would be particularly important to follow the study participants to assess whether they would continue to follow a healthy diet after the study ended," said Otto, "and whether the short-term benefits for cholesterol and blood pressure would sustain over time stay. "(ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • American Heart Association: Vegan diet may decrease heart disease, stroke risk in African Americans, (accessed: December 9, 2019), American Heart Association
  • Circulation: Abstract 16318: Impact of a Plant-Based Nutrition Intervention on the 10-Year Ascvd Risk in African Americans, (accessed: December 9, 2019), Circulation
  • Journal of the American Heart Association: Plant ‐ Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All ‐ Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle ‐ Aged Adults, (accessed: December 9, 2019), Journal of the American Heart Association

Video: Vegan Diet Linked to Stroke Risk? (November 2022).