‘Groundbreaking’ study of twins shows that going vegan DOES improve heart health… in just eight weeks!
Becoming vegan reduces the risk of heart problems within weeks, according to a unique study among identical twins.
Siblings who followed a vegan diet had ‘significantly’ lower cholesterol levels, better blood sugar levels and more weight loss in just two months than those who followed an omnivorous diet.
Despite the link between veganism and other health problems such as anemia and depression, the California research team believes these findings indicate a lower risk of heart disease because cholesterol, blood sugar levels and weight are all risk factors.
Dr. Christopher Gardner, a nutrition researcher at Stanford University, said the study “provided a groundbreaking way to argue that a vegan diet is healthier than the conventional omnivore diet.”
Vegan twins lost more weight, had lower cholesterol levels and showed a decrease in insulin levels compared to twins who followed an omnivore diet
The study involved 22 identical twins with an average age of 39 years. 77 percent of the participants were women.
The vast majority – 73 percent – were white. None of the participants had cardiovascular problems or were obese. Their average BMI was 25.9, indicating that the participants were slightly overweight.
The team chose to study twins because they had similar genetics and lifestyles.
Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California-Irvine asked one twin from each pair to eat a vegan diet, while the other twin ate a more typical omnivore diet.
Both diets include vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. Sugars and refined grains such as white bread and pasta were not included in either plan.
The vegan diet contained no meat or animal products, while the omnivore diet contained chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, dairy and other animal products.
For the first four weeks, a meal service provided each twin with 21 meals a week, including seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners. During the last four weeks, the participants prepared their own meals.
The twins were interviewed about their diet and kept track of what they ate. A dietitian was on standby to provide suggestions and answer questions.
Researchers took the participants’ weight and blood at three times during the study: at the start of the trial, after four weeks and after eight weeks.
The baseline LDL level for vegans was 110.7 mg/dl and 118.5 mg/dl for omnivores. By the end of the study, the levels dropped to 95.5 and 116.1, respectively.
For vegans this was a decrease of 14 percent.
The vegan participants also showed about a 20 percent drop in insulin; higher levels of these can increase the risk of diabetes.
Additionally, vegans lost 4.2 pounds more than omnivores.
“Based on these results and thinking about longevity, most of us would benefit from moving to a more plant-based diet,” Dr. Gardner said.
Of the 44 participants, 43 completed the study.
Dr. Gardner said: ‘Our study used a generalizable diet that is accessible to everyone, as 21 out of 22 vegans followed the diet.’
‘This suggests that anyone who chooses a vegan diet can improve their long-term health in two months, with the most change seen in the first month.’
The research was published in the journal on Thursday JAMA network opened.