An umbrella analysis of over two decades of research highlights the health advantages of plant-based diets, including vegan, vegetarian, and lacto-ovo vegetarian options. These dietary patterns show a huge reduction in the overall risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and premature death from cardiovascular issues.

Plant-Based Diets Reduce Cancer and Heart Disease Risks, 20 Years Study Finds

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Lead author Dr. Angelo Capodici notes a “protective effect” against various cancers, including liver, colon, pancreas, lung, prostate, bladder, melanoma, kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Vegan excludes all animal products, including meat, poultry, seafood, and by-products. Vegetarian excludes animal flesh but may allow dairy products and eggs (lacto-ovo vegetarian). Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Allows dairy and eggs but excludes meat, poultry, and fish.

The benefits of plant-based diets can be compromised by poor dietary choices such as excessive consumption of fruit juices, refined grains, potato chips, and sugary sodas.

Studies acknowledge that individuals following plant-based diets often engage in healthier lifestyle practices such as regular exercise and avoidance of sugary foods, refined grains, snacks, alcohol, and tobacco.

Research suggests that even without additional exercise, adopting a plant-based diet can lead to improved health outcomes including lower LDL cholesterol, better blood sugar control, and weight loss.

Plant-based diets offer high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory substances, while reducing the inflammatory effects associated with meat and processed foods.

They are rich in fiber, which aids in lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Vegetarians and vegans need to ensure adequate intake of nutrients typically found in animal products such as vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, and vitamin D. Supplements and carefully planned diets can help prevent potential deficiencies.

While plant-based diets has numerous benefits, caution is advised during pregnancy due to risks such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, and zinc deficiency.

Pregnant women following vegetarian diets may face increased risk of delivering babies with low birthweights.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics acknowledges the healthfulness of vegetarian and vegan diets across all life stages but recommends caution during pregnancy.

The review does not universally recommend plant-based diets for everyone but suggests they can provide huge health benefits when appropriately balanced and supplemented.

Dr. David Katz addresses the overall favorable impact of plant-predominant dietary patterns on crucial health outcomes even considering the influence of other lifestyle practices.

Dr. Federica Guaraldi underlines the importance of addressing deficiencies and ensuring a well-rounded plant-based diet, particularly during pregnancy.

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A study examined 48 papers published between January 2000 and June 2023, analyzing plant-based diets’ effects on cardiovascular health and cancer risk.

Findings indicated strong associations between plant-based diets and improved health outcomes across various risk factors including blood pressure, blood sugar management, and body mass index.

Vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, gastrointestinal cancer, prostate cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Pregnant women following vegetarian diets exhibited no difference in gestational diabetes and hypertension risk compared to non-plant-based diets.

Studies cautioned against broad dietary recommendations due to differences in study methodologies, demographics, and nutrient deficiencies.

Noted risks include possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies in some individuals following plant-based diets.

An umbrella review conducted by a team led by Dr. Angelo Capodici of the University of Bologna analyzed data from 2000 to 2023.

Vegetarian and vegan diets correlated with better health outcomes including improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, lower body mass index, and reduced inflammation.

Plant-based diets were associated with lower risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Vegetarians tended to consume less refined grains, added fats, sweets, snack foods, and caloric beverages compared to non-vegetarians.

Reduced consumption of processed foods and foods high in added fat and sugar may contribute to improved health outcomes.

The study cautioned against large-scale adoption of plant-based diets until further targeted research can elucidate the specific mechanisms behind their health benefits.

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