New York, Aug 23 (IANS) Are you suffering from high cholesterol? Try plant-based vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, which can significantly help lower the levels of cholesterol -- known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study.
The findings showed that long-term adherence to plant-based eating patterns leads to changes in body composition which help in reducing the cholesterol levels.
The reductions were found to be greater compared to omnivorous diets.
The immediate health benefits of a plant-based diet like weight loss, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol are well known.
However, "our goal is to capture the net risk reduction of using a vegetarian diet to control lipid levels. We hope to empower patients with new research about the long-term cardiovascular health benefits of a vegetarian diet, which include a reduced risk of a heart attack, stroke and premature death," said Susan Levin from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body.
While high levels of "good" HDL cholesterol are beneficial, too much "bad" LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
Plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and whole grains, which are naturally rich in components such as soluble fiber, soy protein and plant sterols, while an omnivorous diet includes both plant and animal foods.
For the study, appearing in the journal Nutrition Reviews, the team conducted a dietary review of 49 observational and controlled studies.
The results revealed that a plant-based vegetarian diet is associated with total cholesterol that's 29.2 mg/dL lower.
Further, in clinical trials, a plant-based diet lowered total cholesterol by 12.5 mg/dL.