A vegan diet can improve heart health in just eight weeks, according to new research.
The study, which examined identical twins, compared vegan and omnivore diets and found that a vegan diet improves overall cardiovascular health.
The most change was seen in the first four weeks of following the vegan diet.
The participants on this diet had significantly lower cholesterol levels, insulin and body weight than the omnivores.
Vegan participants showed about a 20 percent drop in fasting insulin, reducing the risk of diabetes, and lost an average of 4.2 more pounds than the omnivores.
To get their results the team from Stanford University, California, studied 22 pairs of identical twins across three months.
They chose to use these identical twins for the study, which is published in JAMA Network Open so that data wouldn’t be impacted by factors such as genetic differences, upbringing and lifestyle choices.
The team selected healthy participants without cardiovascular disease and matched one twin from each pair with either a vegan or omnivore diet.
“Not only did this study provide a groundbreaking way to assert that a vegan diet is healthier than the conventional omnivore diet, but the twins were also a riot to work with,” said Professor Christopher Gardner.
“They dressed the same, they talked the same, and they had a banter between them that you could only have if you spent an inordinate amount of time together.”
Both diets used were healthy, including lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and void of sugars and refined starches.
The participants were interviewed about their dietary intake and kept a log of the food they ate.
Out of the 44 participants, 43 managed to complete the study, which the team believes demonstrates that this diet is easily achievable.
“Our study used a generalizable diet that is accessible to anyone because 21 out of the 22 vegans followed through with the diet,” said Professor Gardner.
“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.
“Based on these results and thinking about longevity, most of us would benefit from going to a more plant-based diet.”
Although Professor Gardner – who has mostly been vegan for the last 40 years acknowledges that most people probably won’t go vegan, he believes that a nudge in the right direction will still improve their health.
He added: “A vegan diet can confer additional benefits such as increased gut bacteria and the reduction of telomere loss, which slows aging in the body.
“What’s more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods into your diet.
“Luckily, having fun with vegan multicultural foods like Indian masala, Asian stir-fry and African lentil-based dishes can be a great first step.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker