They really are good for your heart! Study says beans can reduce risk of death

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Plant-based proteins, such as beans, chickpeas and nuts, are good for your heart. Source: Getty

The old childhood rhyme ‘Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart’, has it’s basis in fact it seems, as a new study has now linked the consumption of more plant-based proteins and less meat with living longer and a decreased risk of heart disease. The Japanese study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, found people who incorporate the likes of lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts and potatoes, into their daily diet could have a lower risk of heart disease and early death.

Heart disease, which is an umbrella term given to conditions that impact the heart – including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure and stroke – currently kills around 17.3 million people worldwide each year and claims the life of one Australian every 28 minutes.

The researchers surveyed over 70,000 people, the majority of whom were women around the average age of about 55, and examined the association between eating animal and plant protein. The data was collected between 1995 and 1999 and a follow-up was completed in 2016, during which a total of 12,381 deaths were documented.

While eating meat did not increase the risk of death, the researchers found eating plant-based proteins was associated with a lower risk of death overall and death related to heart disease in particular. Researchers also found those surveyed who ate veggies regularly also had a reduced risk of cancer. The researchers concluded the study suggests eating a diet rich in plant-based proteins could contribute to better health and longevity.

Diet is a key factor in reducing the overall risk of heart disease, with experts hailing the benefits of a diet high in good fats, such as those found in fish, avocado and olive oil, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. The Australian Heart Foundation recommends eating less processed foods, which are high in salt and eating one to three servings of lean protein everyday. This means a healthy heart depends on cutting down on chips, biscuits, pastries, sugary drinks, take-away foods and lollies.

Being smoke-free is one of the biggest things people can do to protect their heart and it’s never too late to give up smoking. Similarly, it’s vital that people manage high blood pressure and high cholesterol. An imbalance of cholesterol in the blood is one of the biggest risks of suffering a heart attack or stroke, while high levels of blood pressure over a long period of time can increase the risk of heart disease.

Managing diabetes is also a key way of preventing a heart attack or stroke. Talking to a doctor or GP about managing cholesterol and blood pressure is vital and it’s important follow up with regular check-ups, adhering to medication and other prescribed medication.

Meanwhile, it comes after a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that going without breakfast is significantly associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease. A total of 6,550 people aged between 40 and 75, all with no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer, took part in the study between 1988 and 1994.

Participants were asked how often they ate breakfast and could answer with either “every day”, “some days”, “rarely” or “never”, with 5.1 per cent of participants saying they never ate breakfast, 10.9 per cent rarely ate breakfast, 25 per cent ate breakfast some days and 59 per cent of people ate breakfast daily.

During a follow-up period, which averaged 18 years, researchers recorded 2,318 total deaths, with 619 of those being the result of cardiovascular disease. It was found that those who never consumed breakfast had an 87 per cent high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who always begin their day with a meal.

Skipping breakfast was found to cause issues such as a change in appetite, increased blood pressure and harmful changes in levels, often associated with high cholesterol. Researchers also explained that skipping breakfast is a behavioural marker for unhealthy lifestyle habits.

A good breakfast should include dairy products such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yoghurt or cheese, a carbohydrate such as whole wheat breads, bagels or cereals and fruits. Breakfast should have up to 35 per cent of a person’s total daily calorie intake.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

Do you eat plant-based proteins every day? Which is your favourite? When was the last time you had your heart health checked?

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