For young adults, plant-centered diet can have long-term benefits

For young adults, plant-centered diet can have long-term benefits

Your mother was right all along: Eat more vegetables. And it’s not just a mother’s mantra. Eating a plant-centered diet as a young adult can reduce the risk of heart disease in middle age.

That’s the main message of two studies that established a link between healthy plant foods, fewer heart attacks and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. One of the studies by University of Minnesota researchers evaluated plant-centered diets in early childhood and their effect on cardiovascular issues later in life.

Nearly 5,000 people were young adults when they enrolled in a long-term study of heart disease development in the mid-1980s. Lab tests and medical histories were collected over the years. The researchers also documented participants’ diet histories when they were infants, and at ages 7 and 20. Their eating habits among dozens of food groups were separated into three categories: beneficial foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts; adverse foods including fried potatoes, salty snacks and high-fat red meat; and neutral foods like lean meat and shellfish.

Those who ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods were 52% less likely to get cardiovascular disease than people who ate less healthy foods.

In another study, Brown University scientists found that postmenopausal women who used the so-called “Portfolio Diet” were 11% less likely to have cardiovascular disease and 17% less likely to have heart failure than those who did not follow the diet. The Portfolio Diet emphasizes nuts, plant protein from soy or beans, and soluble fiber from oats, barley and other sources.

So, whether you’re burning through berries or tearing into tofu, raise a fork to mom. She really did know best.

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