I hate diets.
Many diets out there have nearly impossible-to-follow rules and it’s discouraging trying to sift out what works and what doesn’t. In fact, the only diet I recommend to anyone is the Mediterranean diet, which features fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, fish, and lean meat.
But a new study published last week caught our attention. We’ve heard for years that vegetarian diets are better for us. But it turns out that not all vegetarian diets are the same. In fact, some actually increase your risk of heart disease.
The study appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It used data from three long-term national studies comprised of more than 200,000 participants. These folks answered surveys for 20 years about their lifestyle, diet, medical status, and other behaviors.
Unlike past research studies, this one zeroed in on those who claimed to follow a vegetarian diet, meaning they ate no meat. What they found was a divide in healthy and less healthy plant-based diets… And the less healthy ones had much higher rates of heart disease.
They focused mainly on two different vegetarian diets:
1) Healthy plant-based diet. This only contained “healthy” foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
2) Unhealthy plant-based diet. In addition to fruits and vegetables, folks ate potatoes, sugar, refined grains (white bread, white pasta, etc.) and sweetened beverages.
Diet number one effectively lowered the risk of developing heart disease. But diet number two increased the risk of heart disease.
Essentially, those who stuck to the healthy-food vegetarian diet had 25% lower risk compared with those who ate an unhealthy plant diet with meat.
But here’s the kicker… those in the second group had a 32% HIGHER risk of heart disease compared with those who ate a healthy, plant-based diet with meat.
This study backs up what I’ve said for years… avoid “white killers” like white flour and sugar.
That’s because foods like these trigger chronic inflammation. And as I keep saying, inflammation is the root of heart disease.
If you truly want to cut your heart-disease risk, cut out these white killers first, along with trans fat, overly processed food, and artificial sweeteners.
Similarly, eat more anti-inflammatory foods. These foods contain phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. These include lycopene (found in tomatoes), beta-carotene (found in carrots), and anthoxanthins (found in bananas).
Antioxidants also fight inflammation. Blueberries, my favorite food, are rich sources of antioxidants. You can also find antioxidants in coffee, dark chocolate, and wine.
Healthy plant-based diets can work and help reduce diabetes and heart-disease risk. That’s why sticking to a whole-food based diet like the Mediterranean diet will improve your overall health. And remember, you don’t have to cut out all meat. The key instead is to limit the white killers and pile on the fruits and vegetables.
Remember, eating 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day cuts your risk of premature death and cancer. As we wrote about back in March, researchers saw benefits start with just two and a half servings – at that level, folks saw a 4% lower risk of cancer and a 15% lower risk of premature death.
It’s a dose-dependent benefit system, with 10 servings yielding the best results. Folks eating 10 servings of fruit and veggies per day had a 33% reduction in stroke risk, 13% lower risk of cancer, and a 31% drop in premature-death risk.
What We’re Reading…
- Take a look at PubMed Health’s breakdown of the latest study.
- In case you missed it: Here’s my takedown of the cholesterol myth.
- One of many reasons we like the Mediterranean diet.
- Something different: Have we finally found the secret of this enigmatic monument?
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
July 25, 2017