Plant-based diet high in certain foods protects brain and heart

Yet another study has found good reasons to consume a plant-based diet, one that — in this case — ensures it includes high amounts of certain foods. According to the new research from the Boston University School of Medicine, a plant-based diet that is high in certain foods like berries and low in others may help protect brain and heart health.

The new study focused on heart failure and cognitive decline, including dementia, both of which affect millions of adults in the US. The researchers note that heart failure is linked to a greater risk of suffering cognitive decline and dementia, as are the heart changes that come before heart failure sets in.

Health officials recommend plant-based diets that focus on healthy foods while greatly reducing animal products and saturated fats, at least when it comes to heart and cognitive health. This new study evaluated whether these types of diets that are linked to supporting the brain may also address the cardiac changes leading to heart failure.

Using data on more than 2,500 people who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, the researchers found that the MIND diet — a type of Mediterranean diet that includes loads of leafy greens and berries while minimizing animal products – had a positive effect on left ventricular function.

This part of the heart pumps oxygenated blood through the body, which may also help support neurocognitive health, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The study's corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., explained:

Our findings highlight the importance of adherence to the MIND diet for a better cardiovascular health and further reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the community.