A British study published January 30 once again shows the significant benefits of a meatless diet, among them that vegetarians have a 32% lower risk of contracting heart disease. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Although probably not surprising news due to lots of other research conducted on vegetarianism, this study was unique in that it was the largest ever conducted on this subject, consisting of 45,000 people over the course of 20 years. A third were vegetarians, and 20,000 of them had their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked along with reporting their health history. The large amount of vegetarians in the study is rare, allowing a more precise comparison than earlier studies.
The researchers believe that vegetarians’ lower cholesterol and blood pressure rates were the biggest contributing factor in their reduced risk of heart disease. They also had lower body mass indexes and fewer cases of diabetes.
The study tracked how many participants died or were hospitalized from heart disease. Over the course of 11 years, 1,250 subjects required medical attention for heart disease, and they were much more likely to be meat eaters than vegetarians. The term heart disease encompasses several medical conditions involving the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries, increasing the risk for a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
“The findings reinforce the idea that diet is central to prevention of heart disease, and build on previous work looking at the influence of vegetarian diets,” the researchers stated in a press release.
Heart disease is the number one killer in developed countries, causing one out of every four deaths in the United States. Although there are many differences in lifestyle between Americans and the British subjects used in this study, the data strongly suggest a dramatic benefit in cutting meat out of Americans’ diets. While many support vegetarianism for ethical reasons, the health benefits are also very positive. Even the government has gotten behind the meatless movement, with their new guidelines praising plant-based diets.
Then, try out these dishes whether you’re a diehard friend of the animals or simply veggie-curious:
Written by Sarah Shultz for Diets in Review