Plant based food such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, natural vegetable oils, and whole grains are important components of traditional diets in Asian regions. Such diets have been associated with low rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality in these regions. In recent years, growing interest in preventing CVD using plant-based foods has generated numerous epidemiologic and clinical studies. Such studies are important in extending our understanding of diet-CVD relations beyond what we already know about individual nutrients. Additionally, practical dietary advice based on health effects of specific foods or food groups is much easier for the public to understand and implement than arbitrary numerical criteria for macronutrients (example, 30% of energy from total fat). Here we summarize epidemiologic studies on plant-based foods and dietary patterns in relation to risk of CVD.
Plant based diets includes
Fruit and vegetables
Because many nutrients in fruit and vegetables, such as dietary fibre, folate, potassium, flavonoids, and antioxidant vitamins, have been associated with reduced risk for CVD, it is widely believed that higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is protective against CVD. A number of prospective cohort studies have examined this relation, and most found protective effects for total fruit and vegetables.
A decade of epidemiologic investigation and clinical studies has transformed the image of nuts from a fattening snack food to a wholesome and heart-healthy food. The first epidemiologic study on frequent nut consumption and risk of CAD was based on the Adventist Health Study with 6 y of follow-up. After adjustments were made for age, sex, smoking, exercise, relative weight, and high blood pressure, the RRs of nonfatal MI across categories of nut consumption were wonderful and good for heart.
Grains are staple foods in most societies. In traditional diets, grains were typically consumed either in whole intact form or as coarse flours produced from stone grinding. Grinding or milling using modern technology produces fine flours with very small particle size. Milling also removes the outer bran layer and much of the germ. The resulting refined-grain products contain more starch but lose a substantial amount of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals. Because of loss of the bran and pulverization of the endosperm, refined grains are digested and absorbed more rapidly than whole-grain products and tend to cause more rapid and larger increases in concentrations of blood glucose and insulin. Thus, whole-grain products such as whole-wheat breads, brown rice, oats, and barley usually have lower glycaemic index (GI) values than refined grains do. Whole grains are also rich in fibre, antioxidant vitamins, magnesium, and phytochemicals.