(HealthDay News) — Eating a diet that is mostly plant-based can lower cardiovascular mortality by up to 20%, compared to eating a diet that is over 50% meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, according to a new study. The findings were scheduled for presentation at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2015 Scientific Sessions held in March in Baltimore.
The findings are based on 451,256 adults aged 35 to 70 who took part in a European study on nutrition and cancer risk. At the outset, they gave detailed information on their diets and lifestyle. Over the next 13 years, 5,083 died from cardiovascular disease.
Camille Lassale, Ph.D., of the Imperial College London School of Public Health, and colleagues looked at the study participants’ diet information and gave each person a score based on how “pro-vegetarian” their eating pattern was. Those whose diets were about 70% plant-based — meaning whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and nuts — had a relatively lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In addition, the researchers found that people with a “high” score were 20% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest scores.
Lassale told HealthDay that her team accounted for some other potential explanations, such as people’s weight, exercise habits, and education levels. But it’s still difficult to pinpoint these “semi-vegetarian” diets as the reason for the lower rates of cardiovascular disease mortality.