In January 2019 researchers from the USA published their overview on the ability of plant-based diets to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease risk and improve performance of endurance athletes. Current research suggests that endurance athletes have a higher-than-average risk for atherosclerosis and myocardial damage and plant-based diets may provide protection due to their effect on cardiovascular risk factors, eg lipid levels, body weight, and blood pressure, and, as part of a healthy lifestyle, reverse existing atherosclerotic lesions. In addition, plant-based diets may improve performance. They have consistently been shown to reduce body fat, improve arterial flexibility and endothelial function. Vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants, and therefore help reduce oxidative stress. Plant-based diets have also been shown to reduce inflammatory risk factors.
Barnard ND et al. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 10;11(1). pii: E130