Lael Agard, BS Nutrition Science & Dietetics Student
Sherri Isaak, MS, RD, CDCES, BC-ADM, Dip-ACLM
In recent years, more research is being conducted on the health benefits of plant-based diets. One of these many benefits is that plant-based diets have been shown to lower the risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease, which has been a leading cause of death in America for several years.
According to Choi and colleagues who examined the risk of incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) during young to middle adulthood among those who ate plant-centered diets found that consuming a plant-centered diet rich in nutrients is associated with a lower risk of CVD.  Regardless of earlier diet quality, eating a plant-centered, high-quality diet during young adulthood has shown to be related to a lower risk of CVD into middle age.  This means that adopting a plant-based diet earlier in life (ages 18-25), can provide health benefits later in life.
When considering a plant-centered, high-quality diet, try to include foods that are more natural and less processed. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains are considered to be beneficial and have a known connection to lower CVD.  In contrast, fried starchy foods, high-fat red meat, salty snacks, soft drinks and pastries are considered adverse.  In this study, those who limited their consumption of adverse foods and ate a more plant-centered diet with beneficial foods were 52% less likely to develop CVD throughout the 32 years of the study.  Additionally, those with highly improved diets over the course of the study were 61% less likely to develop CVD compared to those whose diets significantly worsened. 
Lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease is just one of the several benefits that have been shown to be associated with plant-centered, high quality diets. For those who have adopted a plant-based diet, I want to encourage you to continue this practice, as research regularly shows the many health benefits it has to offer. If you are starting your plant-based journey, do your best to keep your plant-based options focused on natural, whole foods and limit processed, fried and high sugar foods.
- Choi, Y., Larson, N., Steffen, LM, Schreiner, PJ, Gallaher, DD, Duprez, DA, Shikany, JM, Rana, JS, JacobsJr., DR. Plant-centered diet and risk of incident cardiovascular disease during young to middle adulthood. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021;10(16). https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.020718.
American Heart Association News. Eating a plant-based diet at any age may lower cardiovascular risk. http://www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/08/04/eating-a-plant-based-diet-at-any-age-may-lower-cardiovascular-risk. Published August 4, 2021. Accessed January 17, 2022.