A new study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, suggests that consuming lignans may lead to a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
The authors explain that lignans, polyphenolic substances, are found in plant-based foods such as seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, tea, and coffee.
The analysis utilized three cohorts consisting of 5,517,225 person-years of follow-up. The researchers documented over 10,244 CHD cases. While 6,283 of those cases were nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI), 3,961 CHD cases were fatal.
Researchers looked carefully at the associations between consumption of lignans and CHD risk in over 210,000 men and women in all three separate cohorts. Important to note was that these patients had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer when the study began. Higher total lignan intake and individual lignan consumption were associated with a lower risk of total CHD.
Yang Hu, MS, with the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues wrote, "the inverse associations between total lignan intake and CHD risk appeared to be more apparent among participants with higher total fiber intake, although none of the associations achieved statistical significance."
Additionally, the group looked at some of the specific individual lignans, just the consumption of secoisolariciresinol was strongly linked with lower CHD risk among individuals who ate foods that contained higher levels of fiber, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber.
The team goes on. "Our findings are in line with the recommendation of adhering to healthy plant-based dietary patterns that emphasize increased consumption of lignan-containing foods such as whole grains, fruits/vegetables, flaxseed products, and coffee for the primary prevention of heart disease. The role of lignan intake, as well as the microbial processing of plant lignans, in the etiology of CHD, deserves further investigation in future research."
Studies have shown that plant-based diets are the most effective at reducing cardiovascular disease and cancer. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low in saturated fats and dairy, has also been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease.