A unique Polish study set out to investigate and compare the impact of diet on the blood fats and cholesterol in vegan and omnivorous volunteers. All participants were healthy, between 23 and 38 years old and not overweight. The aim was to discover whether diet influences the blood lipids (fats) to such an extent in healthy people that it can reduce or increase the risk of atherosclerosis – narrowing and hardening of the arteries – that leads to heart disease.
Compared to omnivores, vegans had a higher intake of carbohydrates, fibre and polyunsaturated (healthy) fats. And vegans also had a better intake of vitamin B12, possibly due to higher health awareness. The results revealed that the vegan subjects had significantly lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and other blood lipid levels. Concentration of HDL cholesterol (the good form that ‘transports’ cholesterol out of the blood stream) was similar between groups. This means that vegans had a much better ratio of good to bad cholesterol and better blood fat profile. The authors suggested that a vegan diet may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular protection and can help prevent heart disease.
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Kuchta et al., 2016. Impact of plant-based diet on lipid risk factors for atherosclerosis. Cardiology Journal. 2016 Jan 18. 23 (2)141-148.