Vegetarian Diet Lowers Heart Disease Risk
Common sense dictates that a diet filed with fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds that eliminate excessive red and processed meats, fried foods and sugary sweets will benefit overall health as it naturally extends lifespan. Many people rely heavily on fast convenience and processed foods that are virtually void of any bioactive nutrients and actually stimulate the storage of body fat and encourage development and progression of most chronic illnesses that shorten our lives.
Researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK have published the result of a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that explains how the risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease is 32 percent lower in vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in all western societies, taking the lives of more than 700,000 men and women each year in the U.S. alone.
In the largest study of its kind conducted in the UK, scientists compared rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Lead study author Dr. Francesca Crowe noted “…the difference in risk… shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease.” Researchers analyzed the diet of nearly 45,000 British and Scottish volunteers enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. 34 percent of the participants were vegetarian.
Volunteers completed a lifestyle questionnaire detailing diet and exercise as well as other factors affecting health such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Almost 20,000 participants had their blood pressure recorded, and gave blood samples for cholesterol testing. Participants were tracked for nearly 20 years and researchers identified 1,235 cases of heart disease, which resulted in 169 deaths and 1,066 hospital diagnoses.
The study’s authors concluded, “The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians.” Researchers found that vegetarians had lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians, which is thought to be the main reason behind their reduced risk of heart disease.
The findings reinforce the idea that diet is critical to prevent heart disease. Nutrition experts recommend five to nine daily servings of fresh, leafy greens and vegetables of all colors to halt chronic illnesses and lower risk from heart disease by one-third.
Health-e-Solutions comment: You cannot attribute cause and effect to an observational study such as this one. All you can say is that it’s been observed that two things are found together more (or less) frequently than might be by chance. You cannot say why the discovered association is there, but in a well-designed, large-scale study like this one it can be informative. The conclusions drawn by the researchers are in line with the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle approach. Although we are not strictly vegetarians, we do limit meat and animal product consumption for better blood sugar control.
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