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The Health Benefits Of A Plant Based Diet.
By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts

Plant Based Diet

 The Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

Chronic diseases kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Fortunately, eating a plant based diet may have some possible benefits. 

Eating a plant based, whole food diet means centering on fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and minimizing or eliminating the consumption of meat, sugar, dairy, bleached flour, and oil. Plant based diets have been linked to a multitude of health benefits, including the potential to help improve chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. Read on for a closer look at how a plant based diet can have a positive effect on chronic conditions. 

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease, the top killer in the United States, causes 600,000 deaths each year but has been found to be close to nonexistent in populations that consume plant based diets. Consuming a vegan diet has been found to lower high levels of bad cholesterol, one of the risk factors for heart disease. 

A study (*1)  of cholesterol levels of meat-eaters, vegans, fish-eaters, and vegetarians found that vegans had the lowest concentration of apolipoprotein B (an indicator of heart disease) and total serum cholesterol. 

Another risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure. A plant based diet has been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure levels. 

2. Cancer

Causing around 595,000 deaths per year, cancer is the second deadliest disease in America. A plant based diet has been shown to help lower the chance of developing cancer, according to this study. 

Another study (*2), using data from almost 70,000 participants, associated a vegan diet with a decreased risk of cancer. 

3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

Chronic lower respiratory disease encompasses a group of lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Together, they kill almost 150,000 individuals in the United States every year. Although research is limited on the subject, one study confirmed a plant based diet's potential benefits for asthma sufferers. For the study, patients with bronchial asthma consumed a vegan diet for a full year. Researchers observed an improvement in symptoms, with some participants even being able to reduce their need for medication. 

4. Stroke 

Elevated cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for suffering a stroke. Since plant based diets have been shown to lower cholesterol, they may provide protective benefits against strokes. Consuming a plant based diet has also been shown to lower high blood pressure, another red flag for experiencing a stroke.

Diabetes is yet another risk factor for stroke. Again, a vegan diet has been shown to have potential benefits against diabetes and therefore may protect against strokes as well. Lastly, being overweight can raise an individual's risk of suffering a stroke. Vegan diets can be effective weight loss tools and end up lowering the risk of stroke as a result. 

5. Alzheimer’s

Each year, dementia and Alzheimer's kills close to 85,000 Americans. This study suggests that a vegetarian diet may be beneficial for dementia. 

6. Kidney Disease

In an observational study based on almost 15,000 participants, diets with higher amounts of plant protein were consistent with lower rates of mortality from chronic kidney disease. Researchers could not conclude whether it was the plant based protein itself or some other aspect of a plant based diet that was responsible for the benefits. Regardless of the reason, a plant-heavy diet was shown to have a positive effect. 

7. Diabetes

Over 75,000 Americans die each year from complications from diabetes. Diabetes also raises the risk for conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and stroke. Research suggests that a vegan diet may have possible benefits for diabetes. 

Researchers analyzed 99 individuals who followed a vegan, low-fat diet. The participants exhibited improvement in their lipid and glycemic levels. Both the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend plant-based (vegetarian and vegan) diets for diabetics.

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