Plant-based diets, defined in terms of low frequency of animal food consumption, have been increasingly recommended for their health benefits. Numerous studies have found plant-based diets, especially when rich in high quality plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, to be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes and intermediate risk factors. This review summarizes the current evidence base examining the associations of plant-based diets with cardiovascular endpoints, and discusses the potential biological mechanisms underlying their health effects, practical recommendations and applications of this research, and directions for future research. Healthful plant-based diets should be recommended as an environmentally sustainable dietary option for improved cardiovascular health.
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KEYWORDS: Vegetarian diet; cardiovascular disease; nutritional epidemiology; plant foods; plant-based diets