Is following a healthy plant-based diet associated with a reduced risk of mortality and chronic disease in UK adults?

Plant-based diets (PBDs), which exclude or restrict the consumption of eggs, fish, dairy products, and meat, are becoming increasingly popular around the world. To some degree, this phenomenon can be attributed to the potential health benefits that individuals may experience by adhering to PBD.

These advantages include a lower risk of getting cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and death. According to research, a healthy PBD containing a limited intake of animal-based foods and processed plant-based foods is associated with a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes, CVD, and overall mortality. A comprehensive assessment of the quality of plant-based diets in connection to the risk of mortality and major chronic diseases, on the other hand, is missing.

Concerning the research
The current research looked at the potential link between healthy and unhealthy PBD patterns, as well as their relationship to mortality rates and major chronic diseases.

The UK Biobank is prospective research involving a population-based sample of over 500,000 people aged 40 to 69 years recruited between 2006 and 2010. Participants in the study must have visited one of the 22 assessment centers located in England, Wales, and Scotland. They were subjected to a thorough baseline evaluation at these facilities.

The Oxford WebQ instrument was used in the research to create two distinct indices: the healthy PBD index (PDI) and the unhealthy PDI. (PDI). These indices were created by analyzing the average food intake from at least two 24-hour dietary assessments.

The hPDI and uPDI were calculated using a scoring method that assigned positive scores to healthy plant foods and negative scores to less healthy plant foods and foods derived from animals.

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The PDI was calculated in the reverse direction as the PDI. Food group intakes that exceeded zero amounts were divided into quartiles. Individuals in the research were divided into quartiles based on how much of each food group they consumed and assigned a score ranging from 2 to 5.


At baseline, 126,394 of the 502,411 subjects had data from at least two dietary recalls, as well as relevant covariates. The subsample for this research included 70,618 females and 55,776 males.

The group’s average age was 56.1 years. This research observed 5,627 deaths, 6,890 CVD cases, 8,939 cancer cases, and 4,751 fracture cases over a 10.6 to 12.2-year follow-up period.

The study group had a normal distribution in both hPDI and uPDI scores, which ranged from 31 to 84 and 28 to 82 points, respectively. Individuals with higher hPDI scores were more likely to be female, to have a lower BMI, to be of advanced age, to report no medication intake, to have no chronic health conditions, to consume less alcohol, and to have a higher level of education than those with lower hPDI scores.

The researchers used multivariable-adjusted models to examine the relationship between hPDI values and all-cause mortality. The findings revealed that people with higher hPDI scores had a 16% reduced risk of all-cause mortality than those with lower scores.

Individuals with higher uPDI ratings, on the other hand, had a 23% greater chance of dying from any cause. According to the study, greater adherence to hPDI was associated with a 7% lower risk of developing cancer.

Individuals with high uPDI scores, on the other hand, had a 10% increased chance of developing cancer. There were no substantial correlations between hPDI or uPDI and commonly diagnosed prostate, breast, or colorectal cancers.

Multivariable models showed that higher hPDI scores were associated with lower risks of total ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and CVD, with hazard ratios of 0.84, 0.86, and 0.92, respectively. Elevated PDI scores were associated with an elevated risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and total CVD, as measured by hazard ratios of 1.23, 1.17, and 1.21, respectively.

The researchers discovered no significant links between uPDI or hPDI and the chance of having a hemorrhagic stroke. Our findings revealed no substantial correlations between uPDI or hPDI and the risks of total and site-specific fractures.

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According to the research results, adopting a healthy PBD lowers the risk of total CVD, cancer, and overall mortality. An eating plan predominantly comprised of plant-based foods, with increased intake of sugary beverages, snacks, desserts, refined grains, potatoes, and fruit juices, on the other hand, was linked to an increased risk.

According to the research, prioritizing the consumption of nutritious plant-based foods can improve overall health and provide evidence in favor of adopting a healthy PBD for CVD prevention, regardless of an individual’s genetic predisposition to the disease.

More study is needed to assess the link between PBDs and the risk of serious chronic illnesses in a wider range of ethnic, racial, and cultural groups.

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