The most effective strategy against heart disease and cancer

What we eat is directly tied to the health of our bodies. There’s no doubt about it. That’s why it has been and may always be a topic of research.

And even though we’ve written many times on the health benefits of a plant-based diet — how it can prevent major diseases and cure seemingly incurable ones — we find ourselves here again.

The research is certainly extensive and robust. But how to read all of it?

That problem has been partially solved by a team of Italian researchers who brought together twenty years’ worth of research in one study — seeking to see how a plant-based diet stands up to the two leading causes of death worldwide…

Heart disease and cancer.

The disease-free diet

Dozens of studies have shown that the foods we eat are directly associated with health outcomes. For example, diets high in red meat, refined grains, ultra-processed foods and added sugar have become synonymous as risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

To deepen understanding of the potential benefits of plant-based diets, a team led by Dr. Angelo Capodici of the University of Bologna in Italy reviewed 48 papers on vegetarian diets published from January 2000 through June 2023.

They followed an “umbrella” review approach, which is like a scientific super-review – a study that collects, organizes, and analyzes the data from previous reviews and meta-analyses of prior research.

So what did digging through all this existing research amount to?

Their review showed that vegetarian and vegan diets have a robust statistical association with better health status on risk factors specific for heart disease and cancer such as:

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood sugar
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Inflammation

They also determined these diets are associated with reduced risks for:

  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Gastrointestinal cancer (includes cancers of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas and intestines)
  • Prostate cancer
  • And death from cardiovascular disease.

How to start a plant-based diet

As with any diet, there’s a right and a wrong way to go plant-based — and that’s an important piece of the puzzle according to a statement made by the research team.

They wrote, “It has also been described that vegetarians, in addition to reduced meat intake, ate less refined grains, added fats, sweets, snacks foods, and caloric beverages than did nonvegetarians and had increased consumption of a wide variety of plant foods.”

So they didn’t just give up meat and eat more plants. They ate the best versions of plant-based foods — and their overall food habits were healthier. That matters because…

For people who don’t want to give up meat completely, but eat more plant-based foods, this may be the compromise you’re looking for.

Going meatless isn’t always a good idea. It can lead to deficiencies, especially in vulnerable populations, and in some cases may be linked to disease. For many, striking a healthy balance may present the best personal choice.

Eating more of the green stuff and cutting out the processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods may leave you some wriggle room to enjoy a lean meat meal once or twice a week.

But even though the researchers caution against the large-scale adoption of plant-based diets, they do say when it comes to cancer and cardiovascular risks, a vegetarian diet can be one of the most effective preventive strategies.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


Plant-Based Diets Associated With Reduced Risk of Major Diseases, Large Study Finds — Science Alert

Cardiovascular health and cancer risk associated with plant based diets: An umbrella review — PLOS One

Sorry meat lovers, 20 years of research suggests plant-based is best for your health — Scimex

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.