Decades of studies finds plant-based diet is actually better

Decades of studies finds plant-based diet is actually better

Vegetarian and vegan diets are linked to better health, including lower risk of heart diseases, cancer, and death, according to a new review of nearly 50 studies published over the last two decades.

Previous studies have shown that a diet poor in plant products and rich in meat, refined grains, sugar, and salt is associated with a higher risk of death.

Research has also indicated that reducing consumption of animal-based products and increasing plant-based diets could lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.

However, the overall benefits of such diets has remained unclear.

A new research review assessed 48 studies published between January 2000 and June 2023 that themselves compiled evidence from multiple prior studies on the links between plant-based diets, heart health, and cancer risk.

The latest review found that overall, vegetarian and vegan diets have “robust statistical association” with better health status on a range of risk factors linked to metabolic diseases, cancer, and death, such as blood pressure and sugar.

These diets are linked to reduced risk of heart disease, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, scientists found.

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The findings suggest that plant-based diets are associated with significant health benefits.

However, researchers caution that the strength of the links found in the review may be limited as there are many differences between the assessed studies in terms of the diet regimens followed, patient demographics, and study duration.

Some plant-based diets may also introduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies for some people, scientists cautioned.

They warned against any large-scale recommendation of plant-based diets until more research is completed.

“Caution should be paid before broadly suggesting the adoption of A/AFPDs since the strength-of-evidence of study results is significantly limited by the large study heterogeneity alongside the potential risks associated with potentially restrictive regimens,” researchers wrote.

However, evaluating the different impacts of animal-free diets for heart health and cancer risk, the review showed that a vegetarian diet can be beneficial to human health.

Researchers say such a diet can “be one of the effective preventive strategies for the two most impactful chronic diseases on human health in the 21st century”.