Is there one eating habit that can reduce your risk of heart failure? Yes! In fact, a new study has found that eating a vegetarian diet decreases the risk of heart failure by 42 percent. That’s almost slashing your risk of a heart attack in half by adding in some yummy goodness in the form of vegetables.

Which Eating Habit Reduces Heart Failure?

You see, a diet consisting of whole grains, fish, beans, and dark green leafy plants leads to a heart-healthy lifestyle, according to scientists from Icahn School of Medicine in New York, who found that those who swap processed meats and fatty foods for a mostly plant-based diet are 42 percent less likely to develop heart failure. (1)

eating habit vegetarian heart failure FI

In the study conducted by Dr. Kyla Lara, experts examined five diets which ranged from meat-based, to plant-based. They also looked at consumption of sweets and alcohol over four years.

Which eating habits made a difference?

By now it should be obvious. Foods like eggs, fried food, offal, alcohol, and salads didn’t translate into a lower risk for heart failure. The results of the study also suggested foods to avoid may include refined carbohydrates, foods high in added sugars, trans fats, saturated fats, and processed meats.

Let’s update the numbers. According to the CDC, about 665,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. Um, that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. And that’s a lot for a preventable condition. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. (2, 3)

Plant-Based Diets and Heart Failure

The new study built on the work of previous studies. These show that a person’s eating habits can have an impact on atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that underlies heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

According to the Daily Mail, “A total of 15,559 participants reported their diets using a food frequency questionnaire keeping track of what they ate from five dietary patterns.” (4)

The plant-based diet had the strongest association with a decreased risk of incident heart failure. And this was true even when the researchers adjusted for age, sex, and race of the participants, as well as for other risk factors. More important, researchers didn’t find this same association with the other four dietary patterns.

“Eating a diet mostly of dark green leafy plants, fruits, beans, whole grains and fish, while limiting processed meats, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and foods high in added sugars is a heart-healthy lifestyle and may specifically help prevent heart failure if you don’t already have it,” said Dr. Lara. (4)

Eating Habits: Vegans and Vegetarians

Related: Eat These 9 Foods To Prevent Strokes, Heart Attacks & Diabetes

Sources: Daily Mail CDC