This Diet Could Lower Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, According to a New Study

Our diet can play a significant role in our cardiovascular health, and if we consistently don't eat the right things, we often put ourselves at greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease. These health issues can range from heart attack and heart failure to stroke and cardiac arrhythmia. If you're looking to change up your diet to improve your chances of avoiding these problems, scientists are able to point you in the right direction.

A new study published in the BMC Nutrition journal examined the impact of vegan, flexitarian, and omnivore diets on cardiovascular health and adults' risk for developing conditions in correlation to what they eat. The participants were aged between 25 and 45 years old and were split into three groups: long-term flexitarians who consumed approximately 50 grams of meat or meat products a day; strict vegans; and omnivores, whose diet included 170 grams of meat and meat products daily.

The research team looked at blood samples to find various indicators for cardiovascular disease, arterial wall compliance, and whether each participant had metabolic syndrome, associated with insulin resistance, high blood glucose levels, and an increased weight circumference.

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Unsurprisingly, the vegans were deemed to have the best quality diet, followed by flexitarians—a conclusion supported by previous studies. Vegans also had the lowest fasting blood sugar levels, while both vegans and flexitarians were found to have lower risk for metabolic syndrome than omnivores.

"Both plant-based diets, flexitarian and vegan, were associated with improved blood lipid profiles and higher diet quality compared with omnivores," the study authors wrote. "The data showed that flexitarians and vegans had more beneficial levels of insulin, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol compared to omnivores." Flexitarians also had "the most favorable metabolic syndrome score results based on both BMI and waistline, and better pulse wave velocity values than vegans and omnivores."

"The flexitarian diet appears to confer cardiovascular benefits," the team concluded. "While vegans had the most favorable results overall, this study supports that reducing meat and processed meat products intake, as in flexitarianism, may contribute to cardiovascular risk factor advantages." Still, more work needs to be done to dive into this phenomenon. "Further research with larger, clearly defined flexitarian study populations is needed to better understand the influence of this dietary pattern on cardiovascular disease risk factors," they said.

You don't have to give up meat entirely, but if it's a big part of your diet, you might want to consider cutting back.