Plant-based diets really do lower cholesterol, according to a review of nearly 50 studies.
Vegetarians generally eat more greens, fruits and nuts which means they have a lower intake of saturated fat, researchers found.
These foods are naturally rich in components such as soluble fibre, soy protein, and plant sterols (a cholesterol found in plants), all of which lower cholesterol.
High cholesterol is particularly dangerous as it often goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
It is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and vascular diseases.
The authors suggest eating more greens could be a good preventive care for people who might be concerned about their cardiovascular health – helping them to address the problem before it’s too late.
Vegetarians have lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance, is present in every cell in your body.
Research led by Dr. Yoko Yokoyama, from Keio University in Fujisawa found vegetarians had 29.2 milligrams less of total cholesterol per decilitre (one tenth of a litre) than meat-eaters.
For the review, researchers took ‘vegetarian diets’ to mean a diet that includes eating meat products less than once every month.
For meat-eaters following a vegetarian diet could lower cholesterol by 12.5 milligrams per decilitre.
The findings were compared with an omnivorous, meat-inclusive diet.
If cholesterol builds up in your arteries it can result in reduced blood flow which causes angina or even a heart attack if a blood vessel gets blocked completely.