Heart DiseaseNewsletter

The only diet to have reversed heart disease?

Executive summary

* A debate was held on live television between a proponent of a meat-based diet and one for a vegan diet.

* The key study relied upon by the vegan speaker was the Lifestyle Heart Trial (publications 1990 and 1998). He claimed that “There’s only one diet ever PROVEN to reverse the progression of heart disease – that's a plant based vegetarian diet.”

* The Lifestyle Heart Trial involved only 48 people – mostly men – of whom 35 finished the trial. Only the results of the 35 completers were included.

* The trial outcomes were adherence to the intervention, a measure of atherosclerosis and cardiac events.

* The intervention group completers demonstrated good adherence. Their measurements of atherosclerosis improved over five years, while those in the control group worsened. There were fewer cardiac events overall in the intervention group (although two people died in that group vs one in the control group).

* This is the critical part. The intervention was fivefold: 1) a 10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet 2) regular aerobic exercise 3) stress management training 4) group psychological social support and 5) smoking cessation – all for 5 years.

* It simply cannot be claimed that diet alone was responsible for the ‘reversal’ of heart disease and the diet wasn’t a vegan diet anyway.


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