The diet that improved heart health in just 8 weeks

If you want a healthier heart, do you need to eliminate all the things you love to eat?

Meat? Alcohol? Salt? Sweets?

That’s what we’ve been told over the years. I don’t know about you, but I’d like a little more proof before I restrict myself further — and we just may have it…

If you want to improve your heart health in as little as eight weeks, there’s one diet that you should be following.

But according to a Stanford professor, even taking a shot at it can have significant benefits.

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Twin study puts food on the line

Although mounting evidence appears to indicate that meat can wreak havoc on your ventricles, arteries and heart function and that eating less meat improves cardiovascular health, scientists working to prove this have had a hard time accounting for differences in genetics, upbringing and lifestyle choices in their subjects.

But in a study with 22 pairs of identical twins, Stanford researchers have eliminated these obstacles and have proven that a vegan diet improves heart health in an incredibly short amount of time…

An eight-week trial was conducted in the spring of 2022. The participants were 22 pairs of healthy identical twins selected from the Stanford Twin Registry, a database of twins who have agreed to participate in research studies.

One twin from each pair was assigned either a vegan diet or an omnivore diet.

Both diets were healthy. Both were full of vegetables and fruits, legumes and whole grains and free of sugars and refined starches. While the vegan diet was entirely plant-based, the omnivore diet included chicken, fish, eggs, cheese and dairy products.

Anyone can follow this diet for a healthier heart

During the first four weeks, a meal service delivered 21 meals per week — seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners. For the remaining four weeks, the participants prepared their own meals.

During the first four weeks, participants with a vegan diet had significantly lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, insulin and body weight — all of which are associated with improved cardiovascular health — than the omnivore participants.

“Our study used a generalizable diet that is accessible to anyone because 21 out of the 22 vegans followed through with the diet [in the second four weeks],” says Dr. Christopher Gardner, a professor at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

“This suggests that anyone who chooses a vegan diet can improve their long-term health in two months, with the most change seen in the first month.”

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The important thing: more plant-based foods

According to Dr. Gardner, the vegan participants did the three most important things to improve cardiovascular health: they cut back on saturated fats, increased dietary fiber and lost weight.

“A vegan diet can confer additional benefits such as increased gut bacteria and the reduction of telomere loss, which slows aging in the body,” he says.

Dr. Gardner himself has been “mostly vegan” for the last 40 years.

But while most people will probably not go totally vegan, Dr. Gardner says that even a small move in the direction of a plant-based diet can improve their health.

“What’s more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods into your diet.”

Just adding one cup of vegetables a day can lower the risk of heart problems between 12 to 26 percent, according to research.

Tomatoes have been found to lower blood pressure by 36 percent.

And don’t forget fruit. Blueberries contain a heart-protective antioxidant called pterostilbene that has powerful effects on blood pressure.

But if you do want to eat much less meat, the “green” Mediterranean diet is a great start. This version of the traditional Mediterranean diet includes more plant-based foods and lesser amounts of red meat and poultry.

In previous research, the “green” Mediterranean diet helped study participants lose more weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and beat insulin resistance in just six months.

If it gets confusing, just follow the advice that cardiologist Dr. Elizabeth Klodas often shares: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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Twin research indicates that a vegan diet improves cardiovascular health — Science Daily

Cardiometabolic Effects of Omnivorous vs Vegan Diets in Identical Twins — JAMA

Blurb: Yes, we know that a vegan diet can make you healthier. But not all of us can stick to it. Not to worry, says a Stanford doctor. Just make a move in that direction, and you can have a stronger heart in as little as 8 weeks!

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.