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

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

The study published in the journal BMC Nutrition highlights the benefits of eating more plant-based foods instead of meat for better heart health.

The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of a flexitarian diet on cardiovascular health. It included 94 participants between the ages of 25 and 45 who had been following a vegetarian, omnivorous, or flexitarian diet for at least a year before the study.

Questionnaires were used to assess participants’ dietary habits and lifestyle factors.

Individuals who ate less than 50 grams of meat per day were classified as flexitarians, while those who ate 170 grams or more of meat were classified as omnivores. Vegetarians, who avoided animal products entirely, constituted the third group.

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

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

Additionally, compared to omnivores and flexitarians, vegans showed lower fasting insulin levels, although the difference diminished in significance when the researchers adjusted for co-occurrences.

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

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