Cardio-metabolic disease, namely ischemic heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, represent substantial health and economic burdens. Almost one half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. might be prevented through proper nutrition. Plant-based (vegetarian and vegan) diets are an effective strategy for improving nutrient intake. At the same time, they are associated with decreased all-cause mortality and decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Evidence suggests that plant-based diets may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events by an estimated 40% and the risk of cerebral vascular disease events by 29%. These diets also reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes by about one half. Properly planned vegetarian diets are healthful, effective for weight and glycemic control, and provide metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, including reversing atherosclerosis and decreasing blood lipids and blood pressure. The use of plant-based diets as a means of prevention and treatment of cardio-metabolic disease should be promoted through dietary guidelines and recommendations.
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