Study Finds Link Between Plant-Based, Low-Sugar Diet and Reduced Heart Failure Risk

by Ella

Heart failure remains a significant health concern affecting millions in the United States. Preventive measures play a vital role in managing this condition. A recent study published in JACC: Heart Failure delved into the impact of a specific diet on heart failure risk. Analyzing data from over 23,000 participants over a median follow-up of 25 years, researchers found that adhering to a plant-based, low-sugar diet, known as the EAT-Lancet diet, correlated with a decreased risk of heart failure.

Heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump sufficient blood to the body, leading to various complications such as fluid retention, organ damage, and other cardiac conditions. Several risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and sedentary lifestyle, contribute to its development. While managing heart failure poses challenges, lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption, and salt intake restriction can aid in its management.


Dr. Majid Basit, a cardiologist at Memorial Hermann in Houston, emphasizes the significant impact of heart failure on individuals’ lives. He underscores the importance of preventive measures like dietary changes in mitigating heart failure risk.


The study, a Swedish population-based cohort involving 23,260 participants, excluded individuals with prior heart-related events, stroke, previous heart failure, or cancer. Participants’ adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet index, emphasizing plant-based foods while limiting sugar and animal product intake, was assessed. Researchers categorized participants into five groups based on their adherence to the diet index and conducted various analyses adjusting for covariates like age and gender.


Over the study period, 1,768 participants developed heart failure. Results revealed a notable association between adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet and reduced heart failure risk. Higher consumption of fruits and unsaturated oils correlated with a lower risk, while moderate dairy intake showed a protective effect compared to high dairy intake.


Registered dietitian nutritionist Karen Z. Berg underscores the positive effects of fruit and unsaturated oil consumption on heart health, citing their rich nutrient content and protective properties.

Researchers also examined plasma proteins in a subset of participants, identifying eight proteins associated with both the EAT-Lancet diet and heart failure risk. These findings shed light on potential pathways linking dietary patterns to heart health outcomes.

Despite the study’s encouraging results, limitations such as reliance on baseline dietary measurements and potential reporting biases warrant consideration. The observational nature of the study precludes establishing causation, and future research should explore diverse populations to validate these findings.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board-certified interventional cardiologist, underscores the importance of promoting heart-healthy diets based on emerging research findings. Future studies should focus on strategies to encourage widespread adoption of such diets for improved cardiovascular outcomes.



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