Weight loss, energy, intestinal transit: scientific studies follow one another to praise the merits of the vegan diet, which would also improve cardiovascular health. This is suggested by American researchers, who evaluated the effects of vegan and omnivorous diets on monozygotic twins (identical twins) with similar upbringing and lifestyles.
Limiting meat would lead to better overall health. But the numerous studies carried out on the subject have always presented certain limitations, most often linked to genetics or lifestyle. This is why researchers from Stanford Medicine, the medical school of Stanford University, in the United States, decided to evaluate the effects of the vegan diet on monozygotic twins, having grown up in the same household with similar habits. Twenty-two pairs of twins were included in this study, conducted between May and July 2022, for which one twin from each pair was assigned a vegan or omnivorous diet.
Each twin adopts a different diet for 8 weeks
The scientists specify that the two proposed diets were considered healthy, and rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains, without refined sugars and starches, but that the first was only based on products of plant origin, while the second included chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, or even dairy products.
Participants received delivered meals for the first four weeks – breakfasts, lunches, dinners – then prepared their own meals for the next four weeks. Each individual also kept a diary to provide a list of foods consumed.
A reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol
Published in JAMA Network Open, this work suggests that the vegan diet has the potential to improve heart health in just eight weeks. “This implies that anyone who chooses a vegan diet can improve their long-term health within two months, with the greatest changes seen in the first month.“, explains Professor Christopher Gardner, lead author of the study, in a press release. This is indeed one of the lessons of this research: more improvements were observed during the first four weeks following the change diet.
Better cardiovascular health from 2 months
The researchers also specify that participants who became vegan had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol), insulin, and body weight than omnivorous participants. Markers that scientists associate with better cardiovascular health. “Based on these results and with longevity in mind, most of us would benefit from adopting a more plant-based diet“, continues Professor Gardner.
Make your diet greener
The objective of this work is not to force populations to adopt a 100% vegan diet, the scientists being aware of the upheaval that this could represent for some. But make sure to limit your meat consumption and turn to plant-based sources. “What’s more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods in your diet. Luckily, having fun with vegan multicultural foods like Indian masala, Asian stir-fried vegetables, and African lentil dishes can be a great first step.“, concludes the main author of the study.
Previous research has compared the Mediterranean and vegan diets, both considered beneficial for health, but with more virtues for the latter, according to the researchers. Other work has even looked at the impact of the vegan diet on our pets, dogs and cats, revealing that four-legged vegans were healthier.