A vegan diet may help reduce the increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), says a Swedish study.
RA causes inflammation that affects arteries; heart attack and stroke are among the leading causes of death among people with RA. The new study found that RA patients who ate a vegan diet had lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, a major heart disease risk factor, BBC News reported.
The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm included 38 people who ate a vegan diet that included nuts, sunflower seeds, fruits and vegetables, millet, corn and sesame milk. The diet led to a decrease in total cholesterol levels and a reduction in the amount of LDL cholesterol. The volunteers on the diet also had a lower body mass index at the end of the 12-month study.
The findings were published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
The new research is interesting, but should be considered with caution, a spokeswoman for the Arthritis Research Campaign told BBC News. "A vegan diet may be helpful in reducing cholesterol, but it is difficult to get enough of some important nutrients on a vegan diet," she said.