Veganism: While not everyone may opt for a vegan diet, experts say minor adjustments can boost heart health
Veganism was put to the test in the latest study by Stanford University, where scientists compared its benefits for cardiovascular health to those of an omnivore diet. Their findings are as follows.
The study, published in JAMA Network Open, utilised pairs of identical twins to minimise variables, revealing that adopting a vegan diet for eight weeks led to notable improvements in cardiovascular health.
Dr Christopher D Gardner, the study’s senior author, explained the approach’s uniqueness: “The idea of working with identical twins was fascinating to us.
When randomising identical twins to two study arms, the genetics are perfectly matched, and likely many other factors are matched because these pairs were raised in the same families, lived in the same neighbourhoods, and many other similarities.”
The study involved 22 pairs of twins, with one twin following a vegan diet and the other an omnivore diet for two months. Both diets incorporated vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains while limiting added sugars and refined grains.
Surprisingly, the vegan group exhibited a 20% decrease in fasting insulin levels and lost an average of 4.2 lbs more than their omnivore counterparts.
Dr Gardner expressed surprise at the significant differences observed, especially considering the generally healthy participants in both groups. The study emphasised the swift positive changes a more plant-based diet can bring to cardiometabolic risk factors.
While not everyone may opt for a vegan diet, medical experts agree that even minor adjustments can positively impact cardiovascular health. Dr Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist, highlighted the heart-healthy components of a vegan diet, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Monique Richard, a registered dietitian nutritionist, suggested practical steps like increasing fruit and vegetable intake or trying new vegan recipes to promote cardiovascular well-being.