If You’re at Risk for Heart Failure, a Plant-Based Diet May Be the Way to Go

Vegetarian and vegan diets may help prevent heart failure. New research published by the American College of Cardiology reveals that adults who consumed a diet that contained less fried, processed and sugary foods were at a lower risk of suffering from heart failure later in life.

Each year, more than 5.7 million Americans experience cardiac failure. As cheap, processed and high-fat foods continue to become more accessible, that number is expected to rise. Childhood obesity, heart disease and related risk factors for heart failure will create a greater risk population, while even those with no known history of heart disease could be putting their lives on the line with an unhealthy diet.

Researchers in the study examined the effects of five different diets on the risk of heart failure using the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) population. The diets were:

  • “Convenience” (Pizza, Mexican food, fast food, takeout, meat dishes and pasta)
  • “Plant-based” (Fish, fruits and vegetables)
  • “Sweets and Fats” (Dessert-heavy, lots of chocolate, bread, pastries and high-sugar foods)
  • “Southern” (Fried foods, eggs, processed meats, added fats and sugar-sweetened beverages)
  • “Alcohol/salads” (Heavy drinking along with leafy salads with a lot of dressing)

The study concluded that the Southern diet posed a 72-percent higher risk of heart failure with hospitalization while the plant-based diet lowered the risk by 43 percent. Researchers noted that the Southern diet also increased a person’s likelihood of being obese and developing heart disease, two factors that can heighten the probability of heart failure.

Widespread education about the risks of heart disease and heart failure is needed. Far too many people believe that unless they have a disease, heart failure can’t happen. By learning more about the effects of the diet on the heart in long-term studies, researchers and professionals can develop greater preventative strategies that will help the population make healthier choices.

You can begin to improve your own diet by eliminating junk food, avoiding fast food and forgoing sweetener in your drinks. Everyone is subject to indulge once and a while, but the safest way to live long and in good health is to consume a balanced diet rich with vitamins and protein while avoiding trans-fats, sugar and high levels of sodium and artificial additives.