The benefits of plant-based diets

| 4 December 2023
minute reading time
Doctor with fruit and veg

Plant-based diet improves cardiovascular health

Plant-based diets are associated with significant improvements in people who have – or are at risk of developing – cardiovascular disease, according to a comprehensive review of 29 randomised control trials. They found that cholesterol, blood sugar and body weight all improved more on vegetarian/vegan diets than they did simply by following standard medication and lifestyle therapy for cardiovascular disease.

Wang T, Kroeger CM, Cassidy S et al. 2023. Vegetarian dietary patterns and cardiometabolic risk in people with or at high risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open. 6 (7) e2325658.


Plant-based diets lower risk of kidney disease

Eating plant protein may protect kidney health, according to findings from the UK Biobank Study, which followed over 100,000 people for nearly 10 years. Those eating the most plant protein had an 18 per cent lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those eating the least. They also had improved blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), triglyceride (blood fat) levels and inflammatory markers. The authors suggest that a lower acid load, reduced saturated fat, higher fibre and antioxidants may contribute to the positive effects of plant proteins.

Heo GY, Koh HB, Kim HJ et al. 2023. Association of plant protein intake with risk of incident CKD: a UK Biobank study. UK Biobank Study. American Journal of Kidney Disease. S0272-6386 (23) 00742-4.


Plant-based diets combat symptoms of arthritis

The Plants for Joints study found that rheumatoid arthritis patients with low to moderate symptoms who followed a 16-week lifestyle programme based on a wholefood, plant-based diet, physical activity and stress management had improved symptoms compared to those who received the usual care. They also experienced greater weight loss and greater improvements in cholesterol. Results were comparable to what is generally achieved in drug trials and could lower the need for medication for both arthritis and metabolic syndrome-related conditions.

Walrabenstein W, Wagenaar CA, van der Leeden M et al. 2023. A multidisciplinary lifestyle program for rheumatoid arthritis: the ‘Plants for Joints’ randomised controlled trial. Rheumatology (Oxford). 62 (8) 2,683-2,691.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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