The authors of a new report published in Nutrition Reviews are linking the consumption of vegetarian and vegan diets with significantly reduced levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC) and total cholesterol.
The meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials was led by George Washington University in association with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. It included 30 observational studies and 19 clinical trials, and aimed to examine the link between plant-based diets and plasma lipids.
Consistent with earlier research, the authors found that compared with an omnivorous diet, following a plant-based diet was “associated with decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol”, however it did not demonstrate an association with decreased triglycerides.
“The message is clear and has been proven – lowering LDL cholesterol improves cardiovascular outcomes”
“The message is clear and has been proven – lowering LDL cholesterol improves cardiovascular outcomes, irrespective of the mode; however, there is a question over how much LDL cholesterol lowering is low enough, and what supporting evidence there is for this,” the report states.
Previous studies have consistently shown a correlation between LDLC and coronary heart disease, and with these results comes fresh confidence that following a vegetarian – and in particular, vegan – diet “could offer individuals and healthcare professionals an effective option for reducing the risk of heart disease or other chronic conditions,” the authors conclude.