Study Finds Plant-Based Diet Can Reduce Cardiovascular Death by 40% Interview with:
“Vegetarian Skewers” by Geoff Peters is licensed under CC BY 2.0Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of clinical research
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Washington, DC 20016 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In this study, my research team and I reviewed multiple clinical trials and observational studies to determine the links between diet and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. We found that a healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart attack by more than 80 percent—something no drug has ever accomplished.

We also found strong and consistent evidence that plant-based dietary patterns (with few or no animal products and rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes) can prevent and even reverse atherosclerosis and decrease other markers of CVD risk, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. We found that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by about 40 percent overall. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: I hope that readers of the study will feel empowered. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Approximately 85 million Americans have some form of CVD, which now costs us nearly $1 billion every day. But our study shows that with simple diet and lifestyle choices, we have the power to change some of these statistics, and more importantly, live healthier, longer lives. This is gift we can give ourselves and our families. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of plant-based foods and vegetarian dietary patterns on cardiovascular disease. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Strong and consistent evidence from multiple clinical trials and observational studies supports beneficial effects of vegetarian dietary patterns for cardiovascular disease. Well-planned vegetarian diets can prevent and reverse atherosclerosis and decrease cardiovascular risk factors. The use of vegetarian dietary patterns as a means of prevention, reversal and treatment of cardiovascular disease should be promoted through dietary guidelines and recommendations. 


Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Disease
Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases
Available online 22 May 2018
HanaKahleova SusanLevin Neal D.Barnard

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Last Updated on May 30, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD