You probably already know that a cornerstone of a healthy, balanced meal plan is plenty of plant foods. Fresh, frozen, and even canned vegetables, fruit, grains, beans and nuts provide important nutrients to help you avoid serious illnesses. A new study from researchers at Imperial College London in the UK has found what many health experts have long suspected: Eating more plants than animals is better for your heart.
This was a very big study. The team looked at over 450,000 European men and women, and asked them detailed questions about their meal plans and other lifestyle factors, like physical activity. They were all between the ages of 35 and 70. At the end of the study, it was found that those who ate more plant than animal foods had a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke than the subjects who ate more meat, milk, and eggs. A few recent studies have also shown the benefits of eating more:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
However, the researchers wrote that this type of study can’t prove that the plant foods were the biggest factor in the lowered heart disease risk. People who eat mostly plants also tend to have lower weights, higher education levels, and get more physical activity. All of these can contribute to better overall health. What this study does show is that it isn’t necessary to avoid all animal products to enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of plant foods. Even a few meatless meals each week can make a big difference in your health. It can be as simple as replacing red meat with rice and beans at one or two meals every week. But keep in mind that it’s not necessary to eat less fish, which is full of healthy omega-3 fats.