A Plant-Based Diet Helps Prevent Heart Disease Better Than Nutritional Supplements, Study Review Says

by health and nutrition advice journalist

A new study review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology earlier this week revealed that a plant-based diet may be more effective in protecting against heart disease than vitamin and mineral supplements. Current data estimates that at least 50 percent of Americans regularly take vitamin supplements.

Review authors analyzed individual randomized controlled medical trials from previous studies dating back to 2011 and then performed meta-analyses on heart disease outcomes and mortality rates. Findings revealed little supporting evidence that vitamin and nutrition supplements play a significant role in preventing cardiovascular disease, except for one study where it was concluded that taking folic acid prevents heart disease and stroke.

However, because the 2014 study was conducted in China, researchers say that it’s not certain whether or not individuals living in the West, where folic acid is often added to enriched grain products like cereals, would see the same benefits from taking folic acid supplements. Further studies would need to be performed in order to draw more accurate conclusions.

Study review lead Dr. David Jenkins, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, said in a statement“There are big health benefits from a mostly plant-based diet. In my opinion, that’s the way to go.” 

“In the absence of significant positive data—apart from folic acid’s potential reduction in the risk of stroke and heart disease—it’s most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals,” Jenkins said.“So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less-processed plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and nuts.”

Jenkins’ claims about the health benefits of a vegan diet are supported by a number of studies and experts. Numerous studies have revealed the link between meat and heart disease, stroke, and other diseases.

The American Heart Association (AHA) states on its website that a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is more effective in preventing heart disease and stroke than supplements. The AHA has also recently teamed up with leading food service provider Aramark to release heart-healthy summer grilling tips, placing a strong focus on how to replace meat with plant-based foods. In contrast to meat, numerous studies have concluded that a plant-based diet may prevent heart disease and a number of other health conditions.

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