Discover How a Vegan Diet Can Enhance Heart Health in Only 8 Weeks, According to Study: ScienceAlert

In just two months, research shows that twins placed on an experimental vegan diet had lower insulin, decreased weight, and reduced levels of a protein associated with heart disease and stroke.

This new discovery provides yet more evidence to demonstrate that vegan diets aren’t just the most eco-friendly option – they’re also incredibly beneficial for people’s health.

“Based on these results and thinking about longevity, most of us would benefit from transitioning to a more plant-based diet,” explains Christopher Gardner, a nutritional scientist from Stanford University.

For their study, researchers recruited 22 pairs of healthy identical twins and divided them into two groups to control for genetic, upbringing and lifestyle differences.

Both groups were provided with healthy diets containing vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The only difference was one of each set of twins also consumed a healthy amount of meat, while the other’s diet was strictly plant-based.

“Not only did this study provide groundbreaking evidence that a vegan diet is healthier than the conventional omnivore diet, but the twins were also a riot to work with,” says Gardner.

“They dressed the same, they talked the same and they had a banter between them that you could have only if you spent an inordinate amount of time together.”

For the first four weeks, both groups had specially prepared meals delivered to them and strict instructions around what snacks they could have. For the second part of the experiment, the participants had to continue the diet by shopping and cooking for themselves.

“Although weight loss was not discouraged, our diet design did not include a prescribed energy restriction and was not intended to be a weight loss study,” Stanford food scientist Matthew Landry and colleagues write in their paper.

“Participants were told to eat until they were satiated throughout the study.”

While both groups improved their cardiovascular health, the twins on the plant-based diet experienced the greatest improvements. Not only did they lower their fasting insulin by 20 percent, but dropped their levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) too.

The average level before the experiment was 118.5 mg/dL for the omnivores, which dropped to 116.1. In the vegan group, it went from 110.7 to 95.5 mg/dL.

The study noted an expected drop in vitamin B12 too, but as it was such a short time period, it had not yet become significant, the researchers think.

Going strictly plant-based can be risky when done incorrectly as it does become harder to obtain certain critical nutrients such as B12. People who go full vegan are often encouraged to take supplements to counteract this effect.

Unfortunately, there’s been a strong push back against this dietary option, so much so that veganism has become a dirty word, despite most people agreeing with the principles behind it.

However, we can’t deny the increasing body of evidence pointing to the clear health benefits of a plant-based diet. These include weight loss, reducing blood pressure, and lowered risks of diabetes and heart problems across different ethnic groups.

As increases in health markers were also seen in the control group too, just shifting towards more plant-based foods can clearly also be beneficial.

So if we avoid the sticky, polarizing traps of black and white thinking and instead encourage each other to make healthier choices rather than demanding an absolute shift to veganism, there’s more chance of shifting mindsets and maintaining changes.

“A vegan diet can confer additional benefits such as increased gut bacteria and the reduction of telomere loss, which slows aging in the body,” explains Gardner. But “what’s more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods into your diet.”

This research was published in JAMA Network Open.


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