Plant-Based Diets Offer Greater Heart Protection than Mediterranean Diets—without Toxic, Fatty Fish
New Mediterranean Diet Study Promotes High-Fat, Toxic Diet; Does Not Shield Heart Disease Risk
WASHINGTON—Plant-based diets offer greater cardiovascular protection than the Mediterranean diet, without toxic fish and saturated fat, says the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (The Physicians Committee). New findings on the Mediterranean diet published in the New England Journal of Medicine overlook the risks of high-fat diets.
“Those looking to make a real sea change in their heart health should lower the fat by eliminating fish and other animal products,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., PCRM’s director of nutrition education. “Loading up on fruits, vegetables, and beans—all sources of plant-based omega-3—goes a long way toward cutting heart disease risk, without the fat or the toxins of fish.”
Only 15-20 percent of the fat in fish is omega-3, and fish oil has no effect on heart-related death, heart attack, or stroke, according to a review of 20 studies in JAMA last year. Fish also contains substantial amounts of saturated fat, and high fish consumption is linked to weight problems.
Another recent study showed that vegetarian diets provide even greater cardiovascular protection than the Mediterranean diet. Vegetarians were 32 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease, compared with those who ate fish and other meat products. The vegetarians were also slimmer and had lower total cholesterol and blood pressure.
National Institutes of Health-funded clinical research by the Physicians Committee shows that low-fat, plant-based diets are ideal for treating heart disease and type 2 diabetes—even more effectively than typical oral medications—and promoting weight loss.
“For a healthy heart, focus on lowering fat intake and eating fiber-rich vegetables, legumes, and fruits,” advises Levin.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.