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Only 1 in 10 Americans Enough Fruits and vegetablesThe key ones The way to good health. And as new research shows, it has distinct benefits for anyone diagnosed. High cholesterol.

Researchers looked at levels of LDL, or low-density lipoproteins—often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because increased concentrations Risk of heart attack and stroke. In the study participants, LDL levels decreased by 10% and total cholesterol levels decreased by 7%. A plant-based diet Compared to those who ate meat and plants, the study found.

“This corresponds to one-third of the effects of taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 7% in people who follow a plant-based diet for five years,” said the lead author. Dr. Ruth Freke-Schmidt, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Chief Physician at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Importantly, we found similar results across continents, ages and regions Body mass indexand among people in different health states,” Fricke-Schmidt said in a statement. “If people start eating a vegetarian or vegan diet from an early age, they are more likely to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease caused by clogged arteries.”

The analysis was done on the results of 30 randomized clinical trials, more than 2,300 of which were published between 1982 and 2022. Those studies examined the effects of a vegetarian or vegan diet on all types of cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apolipoprotein B) in the blood. To be a good measure of how much bad fat and cholesterol is in the body.

The meta-analysis is the first to focus specifically on the effects of diet on ApoB concentrations, the authors say. The results showed that being vegan or vegetarian was associated with a 14% reduction in apolipoprotein B levels.

“This large-scale analysis supports what we already know: that Including more plant-based foods in your diet is good for your heart,” says Tracy Parker, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation. Birmingham said in a statement. She did not participate in the study.

However, the study suggests that the effect on cholesterol may be limited to people who inherit a tendency to produce more cholesterol in their livers, which means that high cholesterol has a greater effect on our genes (DNA) than food. Robert Storey, professor of cardiology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

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“This explains why statins are needed to block cholesterol production in people with heart attack, stroke or other conditions related to cholesterol build-up in the blood vessels,” Storey said. He did not participate in the study.

Statin therapy It is superior to plant-based foods in reducing fat and cholesterol levels, Freke-Schmidt said in a statement. “However, one treatment method does not exclude the other, and combining statins with plant-based foods can have a synergistic effect, resulting in more beneficial results,” she added.

Anyone considering becoming a vegetarian or vegan should make sure they are well-planned to include enough iron, iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, says registered dietitian Duane Mellor, senior teaching fellow at Aston University School of Medicine in Birmingham, UK.

“If a person is thinking of making dietary changes, it may be useful to discuss these with a health professional and possibly a dietitian, in order to meet nutritional needs, address health issues, and make it enjoyable,” he said. Not involved in the study.

Additionally, people transitioning to a plant-based diet should still be mindful of the types of foods they eat.

“Not all plant-based diets are created equal,” Edin Cassidy, professor and director of interdisciplinary research at the Institute for International Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, said in a statement.

Only healthy plant-based foods, characterized by fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, improve health, while other plant-based foods contain refined carbohydrates and processed foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, said Cassidy, who was not involved in the study. . Such foods include the most popular French fries and fried donuts, as well as many other baked goods and desserts.

If people are having trouble adjusting to a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, try it, Parker says. Mediterranean dietFocus mostly on fruits, vegetables, grains, whole grains and fish, some eggs and low-fat dairy products, and very little meat.

“There is growing evidence that this type of diet can reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease by improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels, reducing inflammation and controlling blood glucose levels,” Parker said in a statement.

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