Research has found a plant-based vegetarian diet is associated with lower cholesterol levels.
A study published in Nutritional Reviews found the reductions were greater compared to omnivorous diets.
Plant-based vegetarian diets contain no meat and are made of lots of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits.
An omnivorous diet, however, includes both plant and animal foods.
In the study, they found that a plant-based vegetarian diet is associated with total cholesterol that’s 29.2 mg/dL lower.
Additionally, in clinical trials, a plant-based diet lowered total cholesterol by 12.5 mg/dL.
High cholesterol can cause stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
The researchers believe the link may due to the association of a plant-based diet with a lower body weight, a reduced intake of saturated fat, and an increased intake of plant foods which are naturally rich in components such as soluble fibre, soy protein, and plant sterols.
“The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet, like weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol, are well documented in controlled studies,” said study author Susan Levin.
“Our goal with studying plasma lipids throughout the lifespan is to capture the net risk reduction of using a vegetarian diet to control lipid levels. We hope to empower patients with new research about the long-term cardiovascular health benefits of a vegetarian diet, which include a reduced risk of a heart attack, stroke, and premature death.”
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid, and is vital for the normal functioning of the body.
While high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol are beneficial, too much “bad” LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
The study authors recommend doctors encourage people to transition to a plant-based diet.
Hyperlipidemia – or elevated cholesterol and triglycerides – is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.
However, it can lead to thousands of deaths.
Certain foods in particular can help lower cholesterol.
Research published in the journal Nutrition Reviews has found that consuming oats regularly can lead to a reduction of five to ten per cent.