Eating healthy contributes significantly to a healthy body. But what is actually healthy? Which diet really protects against disease? Researchers have now come one step closer to answering this question.

It is well known that nutrition plays a significant role in the prevention of many diseases. Especially when it comes to the biggest killers of our time, diseases of civilization such as cancer or heart disease. But what diet should it be? A team led by Angelo Capodici from the University of Bologna investigated this question.

The scientists conducted a so-called umbrella review. This means that they looked at and evaluated the results of various meta-studies. In total, they looked at 48 papers published between January 2000 and June 2023, which in turn compiled findings from several previous studies. They published their results in the journal “PLOS one”.

The team concluded: Vegetarian and vegan diets showed a strong statistical association with better health. It assessed this based on certain risk factors, including

“Such diets are associated with a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, and death from cardiovascular disease,” the researchers write. “Overall, these results suggest that plant-based diets are associated with significant health benefits.”

Before making a broad recommendation for a plant-based diet for all people, the scientists want to carry out further research. Because: A diet limited to certain foods could also lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies. This would then have to be balanced. There may also be limitations in statistical strength. In order to resolve this, further studies are necessary.

But they clarify: “Our study […] shows how a vegetarian diet can benefit human health and be one of the effective prevention strategies for the two most serious chronic human diseases.”

In Germany, around 360,000 people die every year as a result of heart disease. 230,000 also die as a result of cancer.

In addition to diet, there are other ways to prevent the two biggest killers. According to the German Heart Foundation, the following points are also included in promoting heart health:

Cancer and prevention researchers have also summarized the following measures: