Vegetarian diets can cut heart disease risk

Everyone knows that veggies are good for you, but following a vegetarian diet will give you a 32% less chance of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, according to a study by researchers from Oxford University.

The 11-year long study, whose findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved almost 45,000 volunteers, between the ages of 50 to 70 with 15,100 vegetarians and the remaining 29,000 were meat and fish eaters, and found that those who followed a vegetarian dietary regime not only had lower LDL levels(bad cholesterol) but also had lower blood pressure and had a lower BMI’s(body mass indexes), and were less prone to be affected by diabetes.

The study also adjusted for a wide range of factorsthat could have influenced the result, such as age, sex, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, education and social background and during the follow-up, the researchers recorded 1,066 hospital admissions due to heart disease, and 169 deaths.

Dr. Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford said, “Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease.,”

Tracy Parker from the British Heart Foundation added, “This research reminds us that we should try to eat a balanced and varied diet – whether this includes meat or not. But remember, choosing the veggie option on the menu is not a shortcut to a healthy heart. After all, there are still plenty of foods suitable for vegetarians that are high in saturated fat and salt. If you’re thinking of switching to a vegetarian diet, make sure you plan your meals carefully so that you replace any lost vitamins and minerals, such as iron, that you would normally get from meat.”

Cardiovascular disease causes more deaths in the UK each year than any other single disease or condition and affects nearly 2 million people and costs the National Health Service nearly £15 billion annually.

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