Eating vegan sources of omega-3 during childhood may reduce one’s risk of heart disease later on in life.
A recent study published last June in the Journal of Hypertension, which analyzed a sample of 2,000 adults, found that blood pressure levels are improved by regular consumption of omega-3-rich foods. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, the study notes, is among the key risk factors linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.
A separate study, published last July the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, analyzed the benefits of omega-3s from a supplement, fish, and well as plant-based oils and whole foods such as walnuts. The study found that while supplementing does not reduce risk of death by heart disease, it can reduce “heart irregularities.” A small number of subjects who supplemented whole, vegan or plant-based oil sources of omega-3 saw a slight improvement to circulation. Researchers also noted that it may protect against certain types of heart disease, such as arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat.
plant-based food and heart health
Previous research has revealed the link between diet and health. According to a study published last October in the journal Nature Reviews Cardiology, high consumption of processed meats, combined with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, has resulted in more young people than ever before being at risk for heart disease.
Earlier this summer, the World Cancer Research Fund published the most current, comprehensive source of scientific research on cancer, lifestyle, and diet. It revealed that regular consumption of both processed meats and red meat are linked to an increased risk of various forms of cancer – as well as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure – while a diet of fiber-rich plant-based foods, combined with a regular exercise routine, can reduce risk by up to 40 percent. The Mayo Clinic notes that a heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans and avoids red meat, full-fat dairy, and certain oils. Many studies have analyzed the health benefits of a plant-based diet in relation to maintaining good heart health.
A new wave of medical professionals is aiming to help improve patient lives by applying these findings in their practices. At Pennsylvania’s Lankenau Medical Center, vegan cardiologist Danielle Belardo reports that many patients have lost weight, improved heart health, and have been able to safely stop taking their blood pressure medication on a plant-based diet. At the oldest public hospital in the nation, NYC’s Bellevue Hospital, vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Dr. Michelle McMacken have launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program, a pilot program that aims to help patients adopt healthy vegan eating habits.