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What is the flexitarian diet? Here’s what you need to know about a heart-healthy diet


A flexible diet, also known as a semi-vegetarian diet, emphasizes plant foods with limited or occasional meat consumption. According to a new study, a flexible diet was associated with lower cardiovascular risk than an omnivorous diet.

The study, published in the journal BMC Nutrition, points to the benefits of eating more plant-based foods instead of meat for better cardiovascular health.

The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of a flexible diet on cardiovascular health. It involved 94 participants aged 25 to 45 who followed a vegetarian, omnivorous or flexible diet for at least a year before the study.

To assess dietary and lifestyle factors of the participants, questionnaires were used.

Individuals who ate less than 50 grams of meat per day were classified as omnivores, while those who ate 170 grams or more of meat were classified as omnivores. Vegans, who avoid animal products entirely, formed a third group.

On the day of the study, blood samples were collected from participants to assess cardiovascular disease biomarkers. In addition, the researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure, body mass index and arterial stiffness during the visit.

Blood biomarker analysis showed that both flexitarians and vegetarians had better cardiovascular health than omnivores. Specifically, they exhibited lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than omnivores.

Furthermore, compared to omnivores and flexitarians, vegetarians showed lower fasting insulin levels, although the difference lost significance when the researchers adjusted for confounders.

Finally, vegetarians and vegans had lower metabolic syndrome severity scores, a composite measure of various cardiovascular risk factors, including blood glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight.

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