Vegetarian, especially vegan, diets reduce cholesterol levels, according to a review and meta-analysis authored by Physicians Committee researchers and published in Nutrition Reviews. Researchers reviewed 49 observational and intervention studies that compared vegetarian and vegan diets with omnivorous diets and their effects on plasma lipids. Vegetarian diets lowered total cholesterol levels as well as LDL and HDL levels when compared to omnivorous diets. The greatest benefit on lipid levels was seen in those who followed vegan diets. Plant-based diets typically reduce body weight and saturated fat intake, which may benefit cholesterol management. These findings support previous associations of decreased cholesterol levels and vegetarian, especially vegan, diets.
- Yokoyama Y, Levin SM, Barnard ND. Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. Published online August 21, 2017.