The Identical Twin Vegan Health Study

Healthy twins who ate a vegan diet for eight weeks had lower “bad” low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, better blood sugar levels, and greater weight loss than siblings who ate a diet of meat and vegetables, a new study found.

“There was a 10% to 15% drop in LDL cholesterol, a 25% drop in insulin, and a 3% drop in body weight in just eight weeks, all by eating real food without animal products,” said lead study author Christopher Gardner, a research professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center in Palo Alto, California.

A vegan diet differs from a vegetarian diet in that it eliminates not only animal flesh but dairy, eggs or any other ingredient derived from animals. A strictly plant-based diet can be higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients compared with other dietary patterns, said Gardner, who is also the director of the Nutrition Studies Research Group at Stanford.

“The results of this study confirm the benefit of current dietary guidance to reduce cardiovascular disease risk,” Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, told CNN in an email. She was not involved in the study.

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Summary of the study:

A study involving 22 pairs of genetically identical twins found that those who followed a vegan diet for eight weeks experienced significant health benefits compared to their siblings who ate a diet of meat and vegetables.

The vegan group showed a 10% to 15% drop in LDL cholesterol, a 25% drop in insulin levels, and a 3% drop in body weight. Additionally, they tested younger on biological age measures compared to chronological age. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, demonstrated the advantages of a vegan diet in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors.


The study concludes that a vegan diet, which eliminates animal products entirely, can lead to improved cardiovascular health, lower LDL cholesterol, better blood sugar levels, and weight loss in a relatively short period.

These findings support the benefits of dietary choices that prioritize plant-based, high-fiber foods over diets high in saturated fats and refined grains. However, the study also acknowledges that individuals don’t need to become vegans but can gradually reduce their consumption of meat and animal products to enjoy health benefits.

It may be worth diminishing the amount of meat intake taken in on a monthly basis.

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