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Do you suffer from high cholesterol? Ditch meat and give vegan diet a shot

In the long run, maintaining a vegan lifestyle leads to changes in body composition which help in reducing the cholesterol levels, say reseachers.

fitness Updated: Aug 23, 2017 14:55 IST
Indo Asian News Service, New York
Health,Vegan,Vegan food
The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet are weight loss and lower blood pressure. (Shutterstock)

Vegan diets are controversial. While some research has suggested that it can lower risk of diabetes and cancer, some studies have also proved that it may affect your immunity levels. Now, it has emerged that plant-based vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, can significantly help lower the levels of cholesterol - known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The findings showed that long-term adherence to plant-based eating patterns leads to changes in body composition which help in reducing the cholesterol levels. The reductions were found to be greater compared to omnivorous diets.

The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet like weight loss, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol are well-known. However, “our goal is to capture the net risk reduction of using a vegetarian diet to control lipid levels. We hope to empower patients with new research about the long-term cardiovascular health benefits of a vegetarian diet, which include a reduced risk of a heart attack, stroke and premature death,” said Susan Levin from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. While high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol are beneficial, too much “bad” LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and whole grains, which are naturally rich in components such as soluble fiber, soy protein and plant sterols, while an omnivorous diet includes both plant and animal foods.

For the study, appearing in the journal Nutrition Reviews, the team conducted a dietary review of 49 observational and controlled studies. The results revealed that a plant-based vegetarian diet is associated with total cholesterol that’s 29.2 mg/dL lower. Further, in clinical trials, a plant-based diet lowered total cholesterol by 12.5 mg/dL.

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First Published: Aug 23, 2017 14:54 IST