The typical Western diet includes lots of red meat, processed foods, and full fat dairy products. In the past, eating that way may have been seen as a mark of prosperity. Today, though, people are beginning to recognize that a Western diet can lead to health problems and obesity. As a result, researchers are examining the health impacts of other kinds of diets, such as a plant-based diet. In fact, a new study suggests that eating a plant-based diet might reduce the risk of developing heart failure.

The Impact of a Plant-Based Diet

The study was led by Dr. Kyla Lara, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She and her research team examined how five different eating patterns affected heart failure risk in people who had a history of heart disease.

The researchers looked at information gathered about more than 16,000 people through the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. As part of the study, participants responded to a survey about the way they ate. Using the information, the doctors grouped them by eating patterns, one of which was plant-based diets. Another eating pattern that was significant to the study was the “Southern” eating pattern, which included lots of fried foods, processed meats, and added fats.

Dr. Lara’s team followed the participants for an average of 8.7 years. During that time, 363 participants were hospitalized for heart failure for their first time. The results of the study indicated that eating a Southern diet led to obesity, which raised heart failure risk. In comparison, people who ate a plant-based diet had a 41 percent lower risk of developing heart failure.

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

If your aging relative currently eats a diet that includes lots of red meat, fat, and processed foods, replacing unhealthy foods with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can make a difference in their health. You don’t have to completely eliminate red meat or other foods they love. Instead, try replacing some servings of red meat with other forms of protein, like fish, beans, or soy-based proteins like tofu. You can also encourage them to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables by making them easily available for snacks. Wash and cut up containers of them to keep in the refrigerator. Keeping healthy dips on hand can make them want to eat more as well.

Senior care can assist with making a change in an older adult’s diet. Sometimes part of the problem is that unhealthy foods are easier and more convenient for seniors who don’t like cooking or have trouble doing it for themselves. A senior care provider can prepare meals for the older adult so that they don’t have to worry about cooking. Senior care providers can cook dishes that use healthy ingredients and are low in fat and salt.


When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider home care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.