Published Results: Low-Fat, Plant-Based Diet Significantly Reduces CVD Risk Markers In 7 Days

McDougallStudy2014_2You know the starch-based, plant-food diet I outlined in my last post? Results of a study investigating its metabolic effects were just published:

Effects Of 7 Days On An Ad Libitum Low-fat Vegan Diet: The Mcdougall Program Cohort, Nutrition Journal, 14 October 2014

Participants (n=1615) ate a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, plant-based diet for 7 days. It was an inpatient, residential setting so their food was provided. They could eat as much as they wanted – calories, portions, or food intake were not restricted.

After just 1 week (median figures, all reached statistical significance, p < .001):

  • Weight loss: 3 lbs (eating as much as they wanted)
  • Cholesterol decrease: 22 mg/dl
  • Systolic blood pressure drop: 8 mm Hg*
  • Diastolic blood pressure drop: 4 mm Hg*
  • Blood glucose drop: 3 mg/dl**
  • Patients whose 10-year CVD risk was >7.5% at start dropped to 5.5%***

* This drop occurred even though most BP meds were reduced or stopped at study start. Salt shaking was not restricted. Drops were higher for high baseline BP (> 140/90).
** BG dropped 8 points for those with fasting > 100 at baseline, 17 points for those with fasting > 126.
*** Calculate your own 10-year CVD risk here. High risk is defined as >7.5%.

Conclusions: A low-fat, starch-based, vegan diet eaten ad libitum for 7 days results in significant favorable changes in commonly tested biomarkers that are used to predict future risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases. … These rapid results could motivate physicians to prescribe diet therapy before resorting to the pharmacy for helping their patients.

This is the diet they were eating:

No animal-derived ingredients (e.g, meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products) and no isolated vegetable oils (e.g, olive, corn, safflower, flaxseed, or rapeseed oil) were used. Meals were based around common starches, including wheat flour products, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils, with the addition of fresh fruits and non-starchy green, orange, and yellow vegetables. The macronutrient profile was roughly 7% fat, 12% protein, and 81% carbohydrate by calorie.

This was interesting:

When a food rationing system during World War I severely restricted the Danish population’s intake of meats, dairy products, fats, and alcohol but placed no restrictions on such foods as barley, bread, potatoes, and vegetables, Denmark achieved the lowest mortality rate in its history.

These were older people, median age 58, and most (84.3%) self-reported a history of disease. It seems to me that eating plant food is a cheap, safe, and effective alternative to heart surgery and a lifetime of pharmaceuticals.

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