Effects of 7 days on an ad libitum low-fat vegan diet: The McDougall Program cohort

John McDougall, Laurie E. Thomas, Craig McDougall, Gavin Moloney, Bradley Saul, John S. Finnell, Kelly Richardson, Katelin Mae Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Epidemiologic evidence, reinforced by clinical and laboratory studies, shows that the rich Western diet is the major underlying cause of death and disability (e.g, from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes) in Western industrialized societies. The objective of this study is to document the effects that eating a low-fat (=10% of calories), high-carbohydrate (∼80% of calories), moderate-sodium, purely plant-based diet ad libitum for 7 days can have on the biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Methods: Retrospective analysis of measurements of weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids and estimation of cardiovascular disease risk at baseline and day 7 from 1615 participants in a 10-day residential dietary intervention program from 2002 to 2011. Wilcoxon's signed-rank test was used for testing the significance of changes from baseline. Results: The median (interquartile range, IQR) weight loss was 1.4 (1.8) kg (p <.001). The median (IQR) decrease in total cholesterol was 22 (29) mg/dL (p <.001). Even though most antihypertensive and antihyperglycemic medications were reduced or discontinued at baseline, systolic blood pressure decreased by a median (IQR) of 8 (18) mm Hg (p <.001), diastolic blood pressure by a median (IQR) of 4 (10) mm Hg (p <.001), and blood glucose by a median (IQR) of 3 (11) mg/dL (p <.001). For patients whose risk of a cardiovascular event within 10 years was >7.5% at baseline, the risk dropped to 5.5% (>27%) at day 7 (p <.001). Conclusions: A low-fat, starch-based, vegan diet eaten ad libitum for 7 days results in significant favorable changes in commonly tested biomarkers that are used to predict future risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number99
JournalNutrition Journal
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Low-fat diet
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Vegan diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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