Vegetarian Diet and Mediterranean Diet May Be Equally Effective in Preventing Heart Disease
Dietary changes are often the first course of action recommended for people who are at risk for heart disease. Doctors have a range of diets to choose from to help their patients get healthy, including vegetarian and Mediterranean plans. However, until recently, doctors were not sure which diet fared better for those at risk for heart disease and stroke. Thanks to the latest research from the American Heart Association, it seems both diets are about equal when it comes to heart health.
What Does a Vegetarian Diet Do?
There are many types of vegetarian diets, some include dairy, and others fish (living off cheese pizza and chocolate cake would also technically qualify you as vegetarian, but your doctor would likely not be impressed). To reduce the risk of heart disease, medical experts look to the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which is largely made up of fruits, lots of vegetables, milk products, and eggs.
According to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, this type of diet helped participants lose weight, reduce body fat, and lower their BMI. More importantly, the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet also lowered their LDL cholesterol too. LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because it is the kind that builds up in your arteries. Too much LDL cholesterol puts you at risk for a heart attack, making it one of the numbers your doctor watches carefully during cholesterol screening.
What Does a Mediterranean Diet Do?
The study also looked at the Mediterranean diet, influenced by cuisine from Greece, Spain, Italy, and France. The Mediterranean focuses on fish, plant-based foods, herbs, and healthy oils (like olive and canola). Red meat and cheese are rare. Like the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, the Mediterranean diet also helped study participants drop pounds, lower their body fat, and improve their BMI. However, it also reduced their triglyceride levels. When we eat, any leftover calories that were not used by the body get stored as triglycerides (fat in our blood). The higher the level of triglycerides in the blood, the more at risk you are for heart attack and stroke. Triglycerides are another marker of heart health your doctor monitors along with cholesterol testing.
Why it Matters to You!
The study concluded that a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet was more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol, but a Mediterranean diet was better for lowering triglycerides. Both elements contribute to heart disease, so a decrease in either number is beneficial. Along with the weight loss, body fat, and BMI decreases, both diets are proof that healthy eating matters to heart health and that there is more than one dietary option to decrease cardiovascular risk. Worried about your heart health? Do not stay in the dark a moment longer. Take advantage of health screening services or point of care medical devices like CardioChek and learn your risks right away. With nutrient-rich and delicious options for eating like lacto-ovo-vegetarian and Mediterranean diets, there is no excuse to shy away from starting at least one of the healthy eating plans that protect your heart today.