There is mounting evidence that plant-based foods have a positive impact on the planet – and the body.

Oxford University researchers said in a report last year that going vegan is the biggest action individuals can take to minimise their ecological footprint; and a new paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association this week says that adopting more of a plant-based diet reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke

“Our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher, Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Looking at the data of 10,000 middle-aged Americans between 1987 and 2016, individuals without any cardiovascular issues at the start of the study, the researchers found those who ate the most plant-based foods in their diets were at a 32% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease and were a 16% lower risk of suffering heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other conditions.

“The American Heart Association recommends eating a mostly plant-based diet, provided the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium (salt), cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated and trans fats. For example, French fries or cauliflower pizza with cheese are plant based but are low in nutritional value and are loaded with sodium (salt). Unprocessed foods, like fresh fruit, vegetables and grains are good choices,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., the chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association.