A plant-based diet could lower the risk of osteoporosis in women over the age of 60, new research has indicated.
The study, published in peer-reviewed medical journal Osteoporosis International, found that a healthy plant-based diet was associated with “significantly” lower risk of developing the condition. An “unhealthy” plant-based diet, however, was associated with a higher risk.
Foods considered healthy include whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, tea, nuts, and legumes. Those in the unhealthy category were refined grains, desserts, and sugary drinks.
Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, meaning they break more easily. It can affect anyone, but is most common in postmenopausal women.
Study authors said that the link between a “healthy” plant-based diet and osteoporosis risk remains unclear. They highlighted, however, that some nutrients found in these foods can help prevent the condition.
The study looked at 9,613 participants over the age of 60. They were all from nine different communities in China, and 19.2 percent had osteoporosis. Additionally, 37.7 percent had hypertension, 19.4 percent had diabetes, 12.2 percent a history of fracture.
Over the course of two years (2019-2021), participants were asked questions about dietary habits and demographic characteristics. They also underwent skeletal muscle mass evaluation.
“Older adults, especially women, consume more healthy plant foods and reduce the consumption of animal foods and unhealthy plant foods, which was associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis,” study authors wrote.