Consuming a plant-based diet that includes nuts, soy, pulses, beans, peas and a little amount of plant sterolsa may reduce many risk factors for cardiovascular disease including blood pressure, triglycerides and inflammation, a new study has found.
According to the researchers, the plant-based dietary pattern is known as portfolio diet and it is based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
In addition to reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by about 30 per cent when combined with a low-saturated fat diet -- a level comparable to medications, the researchers found the diet limited other factors for an estimated 13 per cent reduction in the overall risk for coronary heart disease, which includes angina and heart attack.
"We have known the portfolio diet lowers LDL cholesterol, but we didn't have a clear picture of what else it could do," said co-author John Sievenpiper, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.
"This study allows for greater clarity and certainty about the effects of the diet and its health potential," Sievenpiper added.
For the study, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis that combined results from seven controlled trials involving more than 400 patients.
They found that specific risk factors varied from about a 2 per cent reduction (for blood pressure) to a 32 per cent reduction (for inflammation).
The researchers said that dietary and lifestyle modifications can enable patients to manage high cholesterol and cardiovascular risk, and the current study provides further rationale for that approach.
Adherence to the diet can be challenging for some patients, but many find that incorporating just a few more plant-based foods offers noticeable benefits, the researchers noted.