Plant Protein, Fibre & Nuts Lower Cholesterol & Blood Pressure

A recent meta-analysis looked at how a plant-based diet helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, particularly how it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. The sort of foods to be included in this heart-healthy diet are nuts, plant protein, viscous fibre 1  (e.g. beans legumes, flax seeds, asparagus, Brussels sprouts and oats – often referred to as soluble fibre), and plant sterols 2 .

Study method

The researchers reviewed controlled trials ≥ 3-weeks which compared the effect on cardiometabolic risk factors 3 of such a diet (referred to as Portfolio diet 4 ) with an energy-matched control diet which was free of Portfolio dietary pattern components.

Study results

The diet of the above healthy plant foods were seen to have the following effects:

  • significant reduction in LDL-C 5 by ~17% (MD, -0.73mmol/L, [95% CI, -0.89 to -0.56 mmol/L])
  • significant reduction in non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein B 6
  • significant reduction in total cholesterol
  • significant reduction in triglycerides 7
  • significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • significant reduction in C-reactive protein 8
  • no effect on high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • no effect on body weight

The certainty of the evidence was high for LDL-cholesterol and most lipid outcomes and moderate for all others outcomes.

Study conclusion

Current evidence demonstrates that the Portfolio dietary pattern leads to clinically meaningful improvements in LDL-C as well as other established cardiometabolic risk factors and estimated 10-year CHD risk.

Final thoughts

So, if you want to keep your cardiovascular system healthy, you’d be nuts not to eat your daily nuts, and bananas not to…ah you get the idea!

Evidence continues to build up that a WFPB diet (ideally without added salt, oils or sugar) is the optimal diet for human health.

For the other foods to include in your daily diet, Dr Michael Greger recommends his Daily Dozen 9 , and Dr Joel Fuhrman offers us his useful G-BOMBS 10 .

  1. Dietary fibre and health: an overview. J. L. Buttriss and C. S. Stokes. British Nutrition Foundation, London, UK []
  2. Heart Foundation: Plant sterols []
  3. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017; 14: E22. Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Among 1.3 Million Adults With Overweight or Obesity, but Not Diabetes, in 10 Geographically Diverse Regions of the United States, 2012–2013. Gregory A. Nichols,  PhD, corresponding author, Michael Horberg, MD, MAS, Corinna Koebnick, MSc, PhD, Deborah Rohm Young, PhD, Beth Waitzfelder, PhD, Nancy E. Sherwood, PhD, Matthew F. Daley, MD, and Assiamira Ferrara, MD, PhD. []
  4. Harvard Women’s Health Watch. What foods are included in the portfolio diet? []
  5. The Difference Between LDL-C and LDL-P. Posted November 21, 2012, by Axel F. Sigurdsson MD. Last modified June 7, 2018 []
  6. Science Direct: Apolipoprotein B []
  7. Mayo Clinic: Triglycerides: Why do they matter? []
  8. Mayo Clinic: C-reactive protein test []
  9. Dr Michael Greger’s Daily Dozen []
  10. Dr Joel Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS []