A defined, plant-based diet utilized in an outpatient cardiovascular clinic effectively treats hypercholesterolemia and hypertension and reduces medications

Clin Cardiol. 2018 Mar;41(3):307-313. doi: 10.1002/clc.22863. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major economic burden in the United States. CVD risk factors, particularly hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, are typically treated with drug therapy. Five-year efficacy of such drugs to prevent CVD is estimated to be 5%. Plant-based diets have emerged as effective mitigators of these risk factors.

Hypothesis: The implementation of a defined, plant-based diet for 4 weeks in an outpatient clinical setting may mitigate CVD risk factors and reduce patient drug burden.

Methods: Participants consumed a plant-based diet consisting of foods prepared in a defined method in accordance with a food-classification system. Participants consumed raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and avocado. All animal products were excluded from the diet. Participant anthropometric and hemodynamic data were obtained weekly for 4 weeks. Laboratory biomarkers were collected at baseline and at 4 weeks. Medication needs were assessed weekly. Data were analyzed using paired-samples t tests and 1-way repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results: Significant reductions were observed for systolic (-16.6 mmHg) and diastolic (-9.1 mmHg) blood pressure (P < 0.0005), serum lipids (P ≤ 0.008), and total medication usage (P < 0.0005). Other CVD risk factors, including weight (P < 0.0005), waist circumference (P < 0.0005), heart rate (P = 0.018), insulin (P < 0.0005), glycated hemoglobin (P = 0.002), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (P = 0.001) were also reduced.

Conclusion: A defined, plant-based diet can be used as an effective therapeutic strategy in the clinical setting to mitigate cardiovascular risk factors and reduce patient drug burden.

Keywords: Biomarkers; General Clinical Cardiology/Adult; Hypertension; Preventive Cardiology; Vegetarian Diet.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology
  • Hypercholesterolemia / therapy*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital*
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Vegetables*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents