Dietary Intakes and Cardiovascular Health of Healthy Adults in Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Whole-Food Plant-Based Lifestyle Program.

Nutrients. 2019;12(1)

Plain language summary

A plant-based diet (PBD) has been shown to benefit cardiovascular health. However previous research has reported incidences of gout, questioning its safety in certain individuals. Previous studies have mainly focused on the outcomes of short-term changes to a PBD. This study aimed to determine the effects of a whole- food PBD (WFPBD) on cardiovascular health in the short, medium and long-terms. This cross-sectional study split 151 healthy adults depending on how long they had followed a PBD. The results showed that regardless of the amount of time on a WFPBD, markers for cardiovascular health are improved. Long-term PBD (5-10 years) in women was associated with significantly lower LDL-cholesterol, which is a cholesterol that can increase heart attack risk. Significant improvements to blood pressure were also observed in women but again this was not time dependent. Indicators of gout development were not significant, although they were raised in a small number of participants. It was concluded that regardless of time, a WFPBD may be associated with long-term cardiovascular health. This study could be used by practitioners to recommend a WFPBD to healthy individuals who would like to reduce their cardiovascular risk. However, caution should be taken in individuals with gout.


An effective lifestyle strategy to reduce cardiovascular diseases risk (CVD) factors is needed. We examined the effects of a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle program on dietary intake and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in 151 adults (mean 39.6 (SD 12.5) years). Adherence was categorised into short-, medium- and long-term (years: (0.5-<2), (2-<5) and (5-10)), for both genders separately. Dietary intakes were assessed, fasting blood lipids and blood pressure (BP) were measured, and % participants reaching guideline recommended targets for LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and BP in the primary CVD prevention was assessed. There were no statistically significant differences in intakes of energy and most nutrients among participants (both genders), that were short-, medium- and long term in our program. Diet was mainly composed of unprocessed vegetables/fruits, whole grains, legumes, potatoes, and nuts/seeds. LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic and diastolic BP were within targets for: 93%, 97%, 88% and 95% participants, respectively. In females (vs. males), total- and HDL-cholesterol were higher (mean): 3.8 (SD 0.7) vs. 3.4 (SD 0.9), p = 0.002 and 1.5 (SD 0.3) vs. 1.1 (SD 0.2) mmol/L, p < 0.001), systolic BP was lower (113 (SD 11) vs. 120 (SD 10) mmHg, p = 0.001), while there was no difference in diastolic BP (71 (SD 9) vs. 72 (SD 8) mmHg, p = 0.143). More females vs. males reached target triglycerides (99% vs. 91%, p = 0.021) and systolic BP (92% vs. 79%, p = 0.046), while similar females and males reached target LDL-cholesterol (94% vs. 91%, p = 0.500) and diastolic BP (93% vs. 100%, p = 0.107). Participation in our WFPB lifestyle program is associated with favourable dietary intakes, safety markers, and CV risk factor profiles.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Cardiovascular disease
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Physical exercise ; Psychosocial influences
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article