Plant-based diet benefits heart health, endurance and recovery in athletes

A new review published in the journal Nutrients adds further evidence to the theory that plant-based athletes benefit from improvements in heart health, performance, and recovery.

The review finds that even well-trained athletes are at risk for heart disease. A 2017 study found that 44 per cent of middle-aged and older endurance cyclists or runners had coronary plaques. 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.

James Loomis, the review’s co-author, said: ‘It’s no wonder that more and more athletes are racing to a vegan diet. 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.’

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.


  • JollyGoodStuff

    You missed the most important statement in the abstract. “Studies suggest that endurance athletes are at higher-than-average risk for atherosclerosis and myocardial damage”. In other words, being an endurance athlete is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and heart muscle damage. Best not to undertake that level of sport. The other most important part of this study was that it was Authored by a well known group of vegans under the guise of the physicians committee for better health or something… you don’t need to be vegan to get the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, which contain chemicals that help dilate and provide elasticity to the vessels and antioxidant function. In addition Dean Ornish, one of the authors, is also referencing his own articles… His work has been the subject of some criticism by Scientific American. So the premise is that endurance athletes have a higher risk of heart muscle damage and cardiovascular disease. Plants provides benefits to the heart.