Vegetarian Health: Heart Disease
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Vegetarian Health & Heart Disease
Information on Health & Heart Disease, Heart Mortality, Coronary Heart Disease & Vegetarians

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Vegetarian Health and Heart Disease

Vegetarians have a significantly lower incidence of coronary heart disease than meat-eaters. Here are details of some studies into vegetarian diet, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and health.

  • One study found vegetarians to suffer significantly lower mortality from heart disease than health conscious non-vegetarians. Mortality from ischaemic heart disease was 57% lower in vegetarians than the general population, and 18% lower than in non-vegetarians following a healthy lifestyle. Deaths due to cerebrovascular disease was 43% lower in the vegetarians compared with the general population.
  • A study of 25,000 vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists noted a definite dose-related link between meat consumption and heart disease. Among men aged 45 to 64, those who ate meat daily were three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who did not eat meat.
  • The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study examined the relationship between diet and health in more than 5,000 young adults aged 18 to 30. Vegetarians were found to have a greatly improved cardiovascular fitness and a lower risk of heart disease.
  • One way that a vegetarian diet is thought to protect against heart disease is the lower cholesterol levels seen in vegetarians. Raised cholesterol is widely recognised as a primary risk factor for heart disease and studies have consistently demonstrated serum cholesterol levels in vegetarians as being around 10 per cent lower than in non-vegetarians.
  • The California Lifestyle Heart Trial indicated that a low-fat vegetarian diet together with other lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and stress management can actually reverse the progress of heart disease by reducing cholesterol plaques in arteries.
  • Vegetarians suffer markedly lower mortality from coronary heart disease compared to non-vegetarians. This reduced risk may be related to the lower blood cholesterol levels of vegetarians.
  • An 11-year study of 1,900 German vegetarians has found mortality from cardiovascular disease to be 61% lower in male vegetarians and 44% lower in female vegetarians than the general population.
  • Vegetarian Heart research: A recent collaborative analysis of 8,300 deaths among 76,000 men and women in five prospective studies concluded that vegetarians have a 24% reduction in mortality from ischaemic heart disease, this increased to 45% in the under 65s. When compared with regular meat eaters the vegetarians showed 34% less mortality.

Sources include:

Burr, M & Butland, B. (1988) Heart disease in British vegetarians. Am Jnl Clinical Nutrition v.48 p.830-2.

Claude-Chang, J et al. (1992) Mortality pattern of German vegetarians after 11 years of follow-up. Epidemiology v.3 (5) p.395-401.

Key, T J et al. (1998) Mortality in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a collaborative analysis of 8,300 deaths among 76,000 men and women in five prospective studies. Public Health Nutrition.

Key, T J. et al. (1999) Health Benefits of a vegetarian diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society v.58 p.271-5.

Martin, M J et al. (1986) Serum cholesterol, blood pressure and mortality: implications from a cohort study of 361,662 men. The Lancet p.933-6.

Ornish, D et al. (1990) Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lancet v.336 p.129-33.

Slattery, M et al. (1991) Meat consumption and its associations with other diet and health factors in young adults: the CARDIA study. Am Jnl Clinical Nutrition v.54 p.930-35.

Snowdon, D. (1985) Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of diabetes? Am Jnl Public Health v.75 p.507-12.

Snowdon, D. (1988) Animal product consumption and mortality because of all causes combined, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer in Seventh Day Adventist. Am Jnl Clinical Nutrition v.48 p.739-48.

Thorogood, M et al. (1990) Dietary intake and plasma lipid levels: lessons from a study of the diet of health conscious groups. BMJ v.300 p.1297-1301.

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Vegetarianism is a healthy option and vegetarian diets can be perfectly healthy eating plans but care should be taken to ensure optimum nutrition. So, whether following an ovo-lacto or other type of vegetarian food plan, or vegan diet, for a healthy body and weight make it a balanced eating plan and take regular exercise. Always consult a doctor before beginning a weight loss diet or new fitness routine.
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