The term plant-based is trending all over the place recently. This type of diet focuses on whole foods instead of processed foods and those that contain animal products. It’s pretty simple and straight forward — eating a plant-based diet is eating lots of fruits and vegetables. And this seems pretty healthy, right?
The answer is a little bit more complicated than you might think. According to a recent study published on August 27 by the European Society of Cardiology, a healthy plant-based diet can be good for your heart. It can also lead to normal blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar numbers. However, an unhealthy plant-based diet full of juices, refined grains, chips, and sweets like chocolate (all foods that are technically made of plants), can hurt heart health. This is especially true for more women than men.
The study looked at 146 patients considered to be overweight in Athens, Greece. All had normal heart health and followed a plant-based diet. Ten years later, almost half of the participants had developed high blood pressure, high blood lipids, and high blood sugar from eating unhealthy plant-based foods.
“Our study highlights the variable nutritional quality of plant foods,” says Dr. Matina Kouvari, one of the study’s authors. “This finding was more evident in women. Prior research has shown that women tend to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based products than men. But our study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and in turn better health status.”
Following a plant-based diet low in processed foods and high in whole foods is also known to reduce the risk of disease and illnesses. But Here’s Exactly How a Plant-Based Diet Can Protect You From Disease, According to Experts.