A type of molecule called a lignan, found in plant-based foods, may help lower heart disease risk, according to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. The molecule, which is found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, red wine, and coffee, was found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The study was published online in the August 2021 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
First author Yang Hu, a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, and colleagues studied data on the eating patterns of more than 200,000 people. They found that those whose diets included higher amounts of foods rich in lignans had a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who ate low amounts of lignans. The protective effect appeared to increase among those who had higher amounts of fiber in their diet.
“This opens another avenue of research because we can take further steps to see how the gut microbiota and fiber interact with the production of lignans and how these might affect disease risk for other conditions, such as diabetes,” Hu said in an August 9 article in WebMD.