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Avera Heart Hospital

4500 West 69th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
605-977-7000

Vegan Diet: A better choice to reduce risk of heart disease?

Vegan vs. Mediterranean

A well planned vegan diet can be a healthy choice to lower risk of heart disease but this diet is not the only diet that lowers heart disease risk.   A less restrictive plan that is more doable for the average person is a Mediterranean diet.  This heart healthy dietary pattern has a wealth of research with hundreds of studies to support its heart health benefits. Plus the Med diet is the diet followed in regions of the world with the lowest rates of heart disease.

A vegan diet restricts all animal foods including eggs, dairy foods, meat, fish and poultry.  The Mediterranean diet allows all of these foods except for red meat which is eaten only occasionally.  The two diets are similar in that both are whole food, plant based diets and are based on getting the majority of foods from plant sources.

Meet Your Nutritional Needs

There is a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies with a vegan diet and anyone embarking on this diet should consult a registered dietitian to make sure they are getting all of their essential nutrients.  Vegan diets tend to be deficient in iron, B12, calcium, vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. It’s possible to get these nutrients in a vegan diet if well planned and if supplements are used.

This diet also restricts added oils such as olive oil and canola oil.  There is really no justification for restricting these healthy oils for heart health.  Olive oil when substituted for carbohydrates lowers LDL (lousy) cholesterol and blood fats called triglycerides.  Also you need some fats with your meals to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Vitamin E.