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What's flexitarian diet & how does it affect heart?

IANS Feb 26, 2024

A flexitarian diet, also known as a semi-vegetarian diet, emphasises plant foods with limited or occasional meat consumption. As per a new study, a flexitarian diet was linked with lower cardiovascular risk than an omnivorous diet.

The study, published in the journal BMC Nutrition, underlined the benefits of eating more plant-based foods instead of meat for better cardiovascular health.

The study aimed to investigate the effects of a flexitarian diet on heart health. It involved 94 participants between the ages of 25 and 45 who had been following a vegan, omnivorous, or flexitarian diet for at least a year prior to the study.

To assess the participants' dietary habits and lifestyle factors, questionnaires were used.

Individuals who consumed less than 50 grams of meat per day were classified as flexitarians, while those who consumed 170 grams or more of meat were categorised as omnivores. Vegans, who completely avoided animal products, constituted the third group.

On the day of the study, blood samples were collected from the participants to evaluate cardiovascular disease biomarkers. Additionally, the researchers measured the participants' blood pressure, body mass index, and arterial stiffness during the visit.

The blood biomarker analysis revealed that both flexitarians and vegans had better cardiovascular health than omnivores. Specifically, they exhibited lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than omnivores.

Furthermore, compared to omnivores and flexitarians, vegans showed lower fasting insulin levels, although the difference lost significance when the researchers adjusted for cofounders.

Lastly, flexitarians and vegans had lower metabolic syndrome severity scores, which is a composite measure of various cardiovascular risk factors, including blood glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight.

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