News | Cardiac Diagnostics | January 21, 2019

Plant-Based Diets Benefit Athletes' Heart Health, Endurance, Recovery

New study underscores importance of plant-based diet for cardiovascular health

Plant-Based Diets Benefit Athletes' Heart Health, Endurance, Recovery

January 21, 2019 — Meat-free athletes have already proven the performance-boosting power of a plant-based diet. Now, “Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports,” a new scientific review published in the journal Nutrients1 adds further evidence that plant-based athletes benefit from improvements in heart health, performance and recovery.

“It’s no wonder that more and more athletes are racing to a vegan diet,” said review co-author James Loomis, M.D., M.B.A., medical director for the Barnard Medical Center. “Whether you’re training for a couch-to-5K or an Ironman Triathlon, a plant-based diet is a powerful tool for improving athletic performance and recovery.” Loomis, who is currently training for an Ironman Triathlon, is also featured in The Game Changers, a documentary on vegan athletes scheduled to be released in 2019. He also served as team internist for the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Plant-based diets play a key role in cardiovascular health, which is critical for endurance athletes. But the review finds that even well-trained athletes are at risk for heart disease. A 2017 study found that 44 percent of middle-aged and older endurance cyclists or runners had coronary plaques.2 A low-fat, vegetarian diet is the most effective dietary pattern clinically shown to reverse plaque. A plant-based diet also addresses other key contributors to atherosclerosis, including dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, elevated body weight and diabetes.

Because a plant-based diet is typically high in carbohydrates, it may also offer performance advantages. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source during aerobic exercise, and endurance is enhanced by a high-carbohydrate intake. But a 2016 study of Ironman triathletes found that fewer than half reported meeting the recommended carbohydrate intake for athletes training 1-3 hours per day.

The researchers also find that a plant-based diet boosts athletic performance and recovery by increasing blood flow and tissue oxygenation and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. A varied diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, along with a vitamin B12 supplement, provides all of the necessary nutrients an endurance athlete needs, including protein, calcium and iron.

“Like any endurance athlete, plant-based athletes just need more calories than less active people,” said review co-author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “And if they are eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, they will easily meet all of their nutritional needs.”

For more information: www.mdpi.com/journal/nutrients

References

1. Barnard N.D., Goldman D.M., Loomis J.F., et al. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports. Nutrients, Jan. 10, 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010130

2. Merghani A., Maestrini V., Rosmini S., et al. Prevalence of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease in Masters Endurance Athletes With a Low Atherosclerotic Risk Profile. Circulation, May 2, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.026964

Related Content

With the advent and optimization of nuclear scintigraphy protocols using bone-avid radiotracers, cardiac amyloidosis caused by transthyretin protein (ATTR) can now be diagnosed noninvasively without a costly tissue biopsy. The radiotracer 99mTc-pyrophosphate (99mTc-PYP) binds to deposited ATTR amyloid fibrils in the myocardium and can be visualized using planar and SPECT imaging. Amyloidosis Patient Registry  #Amyloidosis

With the advent and optimization of nuclear scintigraphy protocols using bone-avid radiotracers, cardiac amyloidosis caused by transthyretin protein (ATTR) can now be diagnosed noninvasively without a tissue biopsy. The radiotracer 99mTc-pyrophosphate (99mTc-PYP) binds to deposited ATTR amyloid fibrils in the myocardium and can be visualized using planar and SPECT imaging. This is Figure 2, showing how SPECT imaging allows the reader to distinguish between blood pool activity (ventricular cavity, etc) and myocardial activity and identify regional myocardial differences in radiotracer uptake.

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | March 05, 2020
March 5, 2020 — More than 300 patients have joined the Amyloidosis Patient Registry and it is now available to the en
heart disease image
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 18, 2019
December 18, 2019 — In their latest report, “...
FDA Warns Troponin Tests Impacted by Biotin Dietary Supplement
Feature | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 05, 2019 | Dave Fornell, Editor
November 5, 2019 — The U.S.
Videos | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 29, 2019
Doctor Clyde Yancy was a keynote speaker and said doctors need to check their assumptions about patients at the door...
79-year-old Tony Marovic had a right carotid endarterectomy shortly after discovering a 95 percent blockage of his carotid artery at a health and wellness screening event

79-year-old Tony Marovic had a right carotid endarterectomy shortly after discovering a 95 percent blockage of his carotid artery at a health and wellness screening event. Image courtesy of University Hospitals.

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 16, 2019
Health and wellness screenings are more than just nice events for the community – they can save lives. A Mentor, Ohio,...
Pesticide Exposure May Increase Heart Disease and Stroke Risk

Image courtesy of zefe wu from Pixabay

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 15, 2019
On-the-job exposure to high levels of pesticides raised the risk of heart disease and stroke in a generally healthy...
World Heart Federation Launches Global Roadmap on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Among Diabetics
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | September 04, 2019
At the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology, the World...
Insomnia Tied to Higher Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Image courtesy of the American Heart Association

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 19, 2019
People suffering from insomnia may have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke,...